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(Review originally written at 17 January 2007)

I definitely learned more about Ray Charles' life and career, from this movie. Ray Charles- and his music were obviously not from my generation. So I basically knew nothing about him and his career, prior to this movie, simply because I wasn't much interested in him and his music to be frank.

The movie is interesting, mostly also because of the time period it was set in. The '50's and '60's were a pretty interesting time period when it comes down to the evolution of music but also the emancipation of black people in America. Two themes of course also featured in "Ray". The movie keeps a good balance between Ray's career and his personal life. It makes the movie also perfectly watchable for his non-fans, like myself.

The movie features lots of elements and story lines. It has drama in it but the movie is also entertaining to watch. Ray Charles definitely had a turbulent life and career. It keeps the movie itself also always interesting to follow, though some elements are rushed a bit too hard in the story. An entire career is of course a lot to put in a 2 and an halve hour movie and I also feel that the movie should had left some things out regarding its story to keep the movie its flow better and the story more effective and powerful. But really what am I complaining. The movie was already good as it was now. It's definitely a better movie that 80% of the biopics released this day.

It also is for a big part due to the fine directing from Taylor Hackford that the movie worked out as good as it did. Hackford tells the story with both style and substance, making the movie beautiful to look at and also interesting to follow.

The movie often annoyingly and unnecessary switches randomly back and forth in time, from Ray's 'present' life of that time and his early childhood. Only toward the ending of the movie this approach becomes relevant and effective. It perhaps is the biggest and the only real flaw in the storytelling of the movie.

Visually the movie is really great, with some effective and nice looking camera-work and moody sets and costumes that help to capture the time period the movie is set in. Especially the towns and cities the movie gets set in at times, look impressive.

Jamie Foxx might not look much like Ray Charles but in his mimics he perfectly. It helps him to become very convincing in his role and I guess that his Oscar was in place. The rest of the movie is filled with a whole bunch of character, which definitely becomes a bit too much at times. Halve of the characters we don't ever really get to know, or what they do. It makes some of the side-plots work out not as powerful as they could had. Besides Jamie Foxx, the movie also features some other great actors such as Regina King, Terrence Howard, Rick Gomez and Warwick Davis.

The ending feels a bit raffled, as if they were saying Hey the movie is 2 and a halve hours long now, lets put an end to it. But yet the movie covers that needed to be covered, so I tend to forgive them for that.

A good character movie. You don't have to be a fan of Ray Charles or his music to like this movie.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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