I have several friends who are or who are dating musicians. Therefore, when we go out as a group the conversation often turns to music; old music, jazz and soul music. I hear a lot about theory, songs, and people who I do not know anything about. Most of this goes right over my head and I have to ask a lot of questions in order to figure out what they are discussing. I mean I didn’t know what 5/4 meant. I thought that it was one and a quarter. When I went to see Ray this weekend with a musician buddy, I am proud to say that I did not have to ask any questions. This is not due to a sudden peak in my overall musical knowledge, but to a really well written screenplay that held my interest and was easy to follow.
Ray tells the story of singer/songwriter Ray Charles, his rise to fame, and encounters with heroine addiction and the law. The film begins as Ray Charles Robinson is struggling to overcome his blindness and get a fair deal from people who take advantage of the fact that he cannot see, using it to exploit and underpay him. Through his talent for playing the piano and commanding an audience, Ray gets a record deal and begins to tour. With his fame and regular paycheck, however, Ray also picks up a fondness for drugs, heroine in particular. Through his addiction, Ray tries to silence the memories of his childhood that haunt him still in his adult life. Ray learns, however, that not even drugs can make his demons go away. He must face his past in order to have a future.
I think that good bi-opics are hard to find. They must be hard to make. One has to take into account the fact that the story is a true one based upon a real person’s life. Life is not always interesting, so the screenwriter faces the challenge of keeping the audience’s attention without straying too far from the truth or loosing understandability. Ray accomplishes all of these goals. It is a really well made movie. It is funny, sad, and interesting.
The acting is also extraordinarily good. Fox does an outstanding job, proving that he can do more than comedy. His performance is completely believable. He becomes the part and I was thoroughly surprised and blown away.
Topping off the great screenplay and acting, Ray features a large amount of good music featuring new and original Ray Charles songs. I highly recommend seeing this movie, even if, like me, you are musically inept.
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