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Thursday, May 29, 2008

RAY (2004)

With so many bases to cover (sharecropper struggles, blind boy’s triumph, Southern bigotry, drug addiction, jazz prodigy’s tru-life Bildungsroman), there’s no way Taylor Hackford’s Ray Charles bio could have avoided a few cliches; but did he have to include ‘em all? Presented with this much affection, they get the job done, but it’s a long slog to the end. The early years hold the most interest, and Hackford plumps for the same super-saturated colors he used for the backstory on his underrated DOLORES CLAIBORNE. If only we could have followed Young Ray to his School for the Blind and left it at that. As the grown up Ray, Jamie Foxx ’s acclaimed perf is almost too facile to properly register. (Robert Downey, Jr. had much the same self-canceling effect in CHAPLIN.) The line between mimicry and acting is wafer thin here and the emotional payoff is less than the sum of the story’s many parts.

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