Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles is both a great impression and a great performance, delighting those of us who have been talking up his abilities since Any Given Sunday. Foxx so totally inhabits the skin of the musical giant that he deserves a public-service award, not a measly Golden Globe. His peerless work elevates this otherwise ordinary biopic, which is plagued by stiff dialogue and hokey imagery (superimposed nightclub signs fly across the screen to denote life on the road). There's enthusiasm here, but not much of a sensibility: The movie can't decide if it should concentrate on the development of Charles' genius music, his heroin addiction, his womanizing or the valiant way in which he conquered blindness so it focuses on all of them to an equal degree, abandoning key plot points for extended periods to charge willy-nilly in another direction. It's a sprawling, punishingly long odyssey into 20th-century melody.
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