Have you ever felt or had a little reservation prior to watching a film that is caused by a certain relation or some kind of degree-of-separation about the film you are about to see?
I had one, and to be exact, I had a little reservation prior to watching Ray, simply for the fact that I was a little disappointed seeing another biopic-musical weeks earlier. That unfortunate film in which its musical spirit was unfairly removed is called The Buddy Holly Story, and had it not been for Gary Busey performance, I would surely have discontinued watching that soulless film. However, my worry has diminished the minute flickering flame appears on the big white screen, forming a sillhouette playing against the opening credits of RAY.
And what a soulful journey it was!
As the title itself suggests, Ray shows us the life of the genius legendary late Ray Charles Orbison from his traumatic childhood where he caught glucome at a mere age of 6 years old that left him blind for the rest of his life, to his rise of stardom that forever changed the modern music scene for the past 50 years. Along the way, we are shown with many interesting characters who have shaped the existence of Ray Charles and his music as what we have enjoyed until now. These characters did play and give major contributions in creating many of Ray’s hits, as well as occurences happened during the creation of those songs, allowing us as the audience to be given a privilege of private access in analyzing how his works like “Mary Ann” was made as he fell for his band’s singer and created the song based on her presence, or “Mess Around” was unintentionally created as he threw a tantrum to Margie, his backup singer, that ended up in a long argument over their decision to stay apart from one another personally.
Such an angle of storytelling allows Hackford to play around with his skillful direction in presenting Ray’s story through manners that the late genius himself would approve had he been alive: painfully glorious.
Ray’s achievement had to bear numerous hardship in his life, not merely on his physical disabilities, but also on his mentality going crippled with his drug addiction and womanizing-behaviour. Yet, through his songs, he spoke out his sentimentality and playful feeling at times, a genius who immersed himself fully in his works, and the way Hackford presented this story in condensed 152-minute duration that leaves us with tears, laugh and longing for more of Ray, clearly shows the masterful understanding of the music and the soul of the legend behind the glory.
Enhanced with a majestic performance from Jamie Foxx in the titular role that is destined to be the role of is lifetime, Ray looks amazingly believable, thanks to his uncanny resemblance that just simply blew my mind. Having been hid or put under shadow for a long time, Foxx finally deserved this rich attention, no matter how overwhelming it can be, for he gives a heartfelt resemblance as the genius himself. Not merely enough to be contented with piano skills, the way Foxx does his gestures as Ray has prompted us to really think that he embodies the utmost complete spirit of Ray.
However, one scene-stealer really caught my attention way long after the film ends: Sharon Warren.
A relatively unknown who shines in her acting debut (really!), she wrecks our hearts in playing the role as Aretha Charles, Ray’s beloved, good-hearted mother who determined to make a good living for Ray. She has this advantage for not necessarily sharing any scenes with other more established actresses like Kerry Washington or Regina King, and she does seize that chance by showcasing her unbelievable emotional acting skills that leaves us wanting for more of her. Seems that not enough screen-time for her in the film. When she weeps and bursts out her grievances, we are prompted to symphatize with her.
Ray Charles Orbison would surely be smiling widely from up above, looking down proudly of this film.