Ray | Chicago Reader

Ray

Taylor Hackford's epic biography of Ray Charles differs from other authorized Hollywood musical biopics in one striking detail: its subject, still alive when most of this was made, is almost never shown as a likable person (though reportedly this was even more true of the director's cut, now available on DVD). The script, by Hackford and James L. White, follows roughly the first half of Charles's 56-year career—until he got off heroin in the mid-60s—and then abruptly signs off, apart from a couple of pro forma nods to his virtue. We also get some flashbacks to a childhood trauma and his early struggle with blindness that are supposed to explain something or other. Jamie Foxx expertly captures the singer's mannerisms, and there are some knowing asides on the corruption of the music business. With Kerry Washington, Regina King, and Clifton Powell. PG-13, 152 min.

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