There's a whole lot of soul in Ray, but that has less to do with Taylor Hackford's direction and everything to do with a heart-bursting performance by Jamie Foxx. Patching together key events in the life of legendary musician Ray Charles and peppered with standout songs, this is a tear-jerking, toe-tapping biopic that serves as testament to the man's passion and resilience - despite a join-the-dots approach to his psychology.
Seven-year-old Ray (CJ Sanders) loses his sight two years after watching his little brother drown, but his mother Aretha (Sharon Warren) refuses to coddle him. Instead she shows him tough love and becomes the enduring image of strength that he flashes back to through his rise and fall in showbiz. With an incendiary blend of R&B and gospel, Ray (Jamie Foxx) revolutionises popular music, but success puts a strain on his marriage to Della Bea (Kerry Washington). Evidently his major handicap is not blindness, but a taste for women and heroin.
"IT'S IN THE QUIETER MOMENTS THE FOXX REALLY ROCKS"
Demons sprout from guilt about his brother's death, or at least that's the way Hackford draws it. Sledgehammer hints include Ray knocking desperately on a bathroom door where folks are getting high and suddenly he's wading ankle-deep in water. Later, when going cold turkey, the memory becomes a horrific hallucination with water turning to blood. It's all too graceless and simplistic, so it's left to Jamie Foxx to get beneath the skin of Ray.
All the physical quirks are present and correct, but the most impressive facet of Foxx's portrayal is that he does it with his eyes closed - literally. He may bring the house down behind the piano, but it's in the quieter moments that he really rocks, inspiring empathy with barely perceptible gestures. Here's a rare case when the actor truly makes the film - Foxx will make your heart sing.