By this point it's pretty hard to do something original with a biopic, and now that I've seen several of them (particularly the musical kind) a pattern has emerged. Typically, they will pick a time period in a person's life/career and focus on a certain personal struggle and how they overcome it. With musicians, this often involves women and substance abuse. 'Tis the same story with Ray Charles. RAY focuses on Ray Charles' beginnings in the music business up through the point at which he came clean off of heroin (around 1966). To round out the narrative, there are flashbacks to his childhood and an extended coda which ties up a significant plot point from before and serves as an epitaph to his life and career (the film came out several months after his death). Because so many biopics follow the same formula, what distinguishes them from one another (other than the subject) is the quality of the performances and the ingenuity with which they are put together, and RAY certainly stands out from the rest thanks in large part to an excellent central performance by Jamie Foxx. The way he inhabits Ray Charles is uncanny at times, although the straightforward dramatic scenes verge on mimicry in a way that stands out more when juxtaposed with the performance scenes. For me, the performance scenes work better because Jamie Foxx was able to capture a realness and immediacy that comes from someone who is intimately familiar with performing music on the stage (as Foxx is also a singer). Beyond that I thought that the editing, particularly in the musical sequences had a certain kinetic energy that brought the performances to life. However, I found it a little distracting that Ray Charles' voice was coming out of Jamie Foxx's body when there was a few early scenes where Jamie Foxx used his own voice to sing. Even still, I got used to it after a while. In general, I thought that everyone gave a good performance, and the film had an excellent ensemble cast. One thing I also thought was done rather well was the hallucinogenic nature of the flashback scenes, which added a layer of artfulness as inner turmoil, with Ray Charles feeling guilty about how his younger brother died. What I felt didn't always work was the general formula and obligatory dramatic moments which hit again and again just how dependent Ray became on heroin. I got a little tired and frustrated with it in WALK THE LINE (although that came out the following year, and followed RAY's playbook) and felt the same way here. Yes, it was a compelling arc to have in a general sense, but it's something that's been played out a little bit too much, in my opinion. Despite the formulaic nature of the plot and story, I had a great time with RAY because of the talented actors who brought it to life, and the energetic and soulful musical numbers. RAY might rely a little too heavily on formula, but at least it's a winning one.