3 out of 10
Biography of a Dirt Bag
I openly admit that my opinion of Ray Charles was never high, but once I had seen this film, it has quite frankly, fallen off a cliff and I honestly feel almost ashamed to have to conceed that he was also am member of the human race.
Whilst the issue of miracles and acts of God is hotly contended, if ever there was a "give-away", a peek at the answer book, then Ray Charles's childhood would constitute that. Seven weeks after watching his little brother drown in front of him and not having uttered a word to seek help, let alone do anything to save him, Ray Charles goes suddenly and mysteriously blind - in fact it's almost like a strike down by a vengeful God straight out of the Old Testament.
With his career options somewhat reduced, Charles has no qualms about turning to prostition to get his first break into showbusiness, happily shagging his agent whereever and whenever possible. Despite receiving free rent and board, he somehow thinks he's being cheated. Remarkable! Consider, if you have a leaky toilet, do you expect your plumber to give you a BJ to get the work? For those of us who actually have the morals to have refused a casting couch offer in real life, in my case over a script, this already really rates him well lower than filth. BUT STILL, the film has but just begun.
Lacking any talent to come up with his own brand of music, good old Charlesie boy decides to plagurise church music and derides anyone who complains, so he can wisely invest his big payroll from ripping off the Almighty in the most Holy of substances: heroine and cocaine..so, a tip of the hat there from all us good God-fearing folk who do actually have talent to write creatively.
So, has this bucket of slime anything good to offer? Most certainly, with his days of prostitution behind him, this ruthlessly sexually predatorial creep is only too happy to pump his semen in any crack he can force his way into, carrying forward the tradition of the casting couch to make sure that only hookers can get a look in when it comes to women in showbusiness and drug addicts when it comes to the male members of his band.
As he becomes more and more greedy, manipulating and using everyone her can get his hands on, Charles is able to use his painful childhood experiences as a training exercise on how to rip people off and makes sure that all those who fell over to help the poor blind kid, are now given a good whipping with first Atlantic Records who invested their all in him being dumped for a few pieces of silver. After that, and with his future as a multimillionaire assured, he makes sure that his band members who have never had any share in his success are ruthlessly cheated out of the few bucks they make for spurious reasons, like you were 5 minutes late so that's $50 please. By the end, there isn't a person in his life he hasn't thoroughly fucked...in both senses of the word.
How any film could portray this cockroach as some sort of hero defeats me. After wading through this long and cumbersome film, all I can say is well dead and buried!
Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett