Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles
Kerry Washington as Della Bea Robinson
Regina King as Margie Hendricks
Clifton Powell as Jeff Brown
Harry J. Lennix as Joe Adams (as Harry Lennix)
Bokeem Woodbine as Fathead Newman
Aunjanue Ellis as Mary Ann Fisher
Sharon Warren as Aretha Robinson
C.J. Sanders as Young Ray Robinson
Curtis Armstrong as Ahmet Ertegun
Richard Schiff as Jerry Wexler
Larenz Tate as Quincy Jones
Terrence Dashon Howard as Gossie McKee
David Krumholtz as Milt Shaw
Wendell Pierce as Wilbur Brassfield
Jamie Foxx has had a great year this year. Starring opposite Tom Cruise in Collateral, the first movie of his to gross over $100 million, and then to follow it up with arguably the best performance of the year in Ray. When Jamie Foxx is on screen, you do not see Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, you see Ray Charles. The transformation is made complete by the way Jamie Foxx was able to emulate not only the look but also the mannerisms, diction, and style of Ray Charles.
Fortunately, Foxx’s acting is not wasted on the rest of the movie. Ray Charles had a very interesting life and had to overcome many hardships that translate well to film. Ray’s life touched many people and the resulting large cast of supporting actors all give good performances.
As with Ray’s life, the movie is filled with music. The majority of the singing done in the movie is archival recordings of Ray Charles. Jamie Foxx does sing however, and it is impossible to tell where. The soundtrack is an impressive list of Ray Charles’ hits that flow seamlessly through the narrative of his life.
If there is any complaint about the movie, it is that even with a two and a half hour running time, the film seems to rush at the end. There are few movies of that length that you wish are even longer, but it felt as if Ray could have used a few extra minutes to flesh the later years.
Who should see this movie? Anyone that loves to see a great performance by an actor should see Jamie Foxx’s total transformation into Ray Charles. Jamie can play the piano and it gave the director (Taylor Hackford) a greater degree of freedom with camera angles and scene lengths that leads to a more realistic overall feel. Fans of Ray’s music will enjoy to see the story behind some of the songs. There is a love story, more than one, but it is not a fairy tale one. The action is limited to a truncated fist fight, so if all you are looking for is explosions you need to be someplace else. Ray’s life, while full, was often not very funny, so people looking for a quick laugh also need to seek it elsewhere. If you are looking to see a character study of a real life musical legend, then you would be hard pressed to find a better one.