Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

Directors make choices and that's why we love them, but too often do they refuse to allow a meeting between the actor and the famous person being portrayed. (Russell Crowe had to meet with John Nash secretly and later said it helped him immensely.) "Ray" is evidence that the participation of the subject, when he is willing to endure the the warts-and-all treatment, can enrich a biopic with information and authenticity. Jamie Foxx is nearly indistinguishable from the real Ray Charles, and so is the film, seeming to comprehend in full his complexities and insecurities and hidden strengths. It is sometimes too pat, with an abrupt conclusion and the rudimentary psychoanalysis so typical of the genre, but its best attribute is how well it understands its subject and how well it portrays him. We don't need a moment with a blank screen to understand how Charles saw the world: He was such a strong personality, striding without a cane or dog everywhere he went, so intrinsically dignified in every thought and gesture, that we come to realize that an understanding of his blindness would be inessential to an understanding of the man himself. He was a great man for his accomplishments both public and private, and this cinematic life summary is an honorable tribute to the spirit that made him so.

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