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The Only Thing More Extraordinary Than The Music Is The Man Behind It 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Ray

From director Taylor Hackford (The Devil’s Advocate) comes this extraordinary biopic of the late American musical legend Ray Charles (Foxx). Going blind from the age of six with glaucoma, Ray’s mother taught him that the only way he would get by in life was is if he took care of himself and made things happen. From the haunting tragedy of watching his brother drown, we trace Ray’s life from a struggling musician in a deeply segregated south, to his enormous success as a pioneer of soul music; producing innovative mixes of sounds, obviously blessed with a rare talent, through prejudice, infidelity and drug addiction.

Jamie Foxx is amazing in a fully committed performance, lip-syncing Ray Charles’ songs perfectly, playing the piano himself, capturing his mannerisms – the walk, body movements and smile; you believe he is Ray, all adding up to a much-deserved Oscar win. Foxx spent a lot of time with Charles before his death in June 2004 and the research has clearly paid off. He steals the show but this takes nothing away from the rest of the cast who all give strong performances, particularly Washington as his suffering but devoted wife. Hackford pulls no punches in portraying the less glamorous aspects of Charles’ life, with his infidelity and drug habit making for a sometimes uncomfortable watch. The screenplay manages to take us through several decades and a 2½ hour running time without ever dragging, and although of course not every event of his life could be included, Ray provides a fascinating account of an even more fascinating life.  

The soundtrack is a mix of some of Ray’s greatest hits and will satisfy both established fans and inspire those new to his music to go out and hear more. Charles died during the production of the film, making this a real tribute to the life of the Genius. This film is an absolute must-see and will transport you to another place and time.

Hannah Upton

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Summer Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Summer Term (35mm)