Film Review

The story “Ray,” about the life of singer Ray Charles, begins with Ray as a young child in Florida during the 1930s. He witnesses the accidental drowning of his little brother George and this trauma is one that haunted him the rest of his life. Not long after George’s death, Ray became blind.

His mother, Aretha Robinson, a poor, single mom, taught him to be self-sufficient. While she lacked formal education she taught him that, despite his blindness, he was not helpless and that he could learn to survive and succeed.

Ray Charles made his name in R&B, but easily fit in with jazz, blues, country and western, rock ’n’ roll and even gospel. Ray Charles was a musical genius that could take any form of music and make it sound good. Not only that, but his music sounds like no one else’s. This is why Ray Charles became a musical legend.

Unfortunately, the trauma of his brother’s death and the unwarranted guilt he experienced had a serious impact on his psyche — thus, his addiction to heroin, his compulsive sexual flings and the consequences of such self-destructive behavior.

Only after Ray was threatened with imprisonment for smuggling heroin from Canada into the U.S. did he finally hit rock bottom and come to the realization that he indeed needed help. He finally learned that his mother’s lessons and his talent blended well and that he could be a success. Despite his fame and fortune he did not truly become successful until he was finally able to fully understand who he was and what his true mission in life was.

Another defining moment was his change of heart after initially agreeing to play before a segregated audience in Georgia during the 1960s. For standing up to Jim Crow, he was banned from ever performing again in the state of Georgia. From that that point on, he refused to perform before segregated audiences in the U.S. (He did perform in South Africa in 1981 despite being advised not to.) The incident in Georgia also led to a friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Jamie Foxx, who plays the title role, has come a long way since his days on “In Living Color.” In “Ray,” Foxx has shown that he is truly one of Hollywood’s emerging artists. “Ray” is one movie you do not want to miss!

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