And, also, you know, it's an uplifting movie. Surprise! I mean, here's the story of a kid who grew up dirt-poor, black, and blind, in a time and place when any one of those things could have been, well, crippling. But, he grows up and changes music. Every time another song comes up in the movie you tap your feet and hum along because you know it, and you say, "Damn, that was Ray Charles, too? Dude's got some talent on him!"
Plus, I liked the conceit of blindness as a metaphor for the essential loneliness we all feel. When you see Ray getting jerked around or feeling lost or completely alone or scared because he's blind, you totally identify with him, because we all have those feelings at some point. At the end of the day, we're all alone with ourselves, in the dark. Even the people we love the most can betray us.
And, finally, I'll admit I cried at the end with the re-enactment of the Georgia legislature making "Georgia on My Mind" the state song and formally apologizing to Ray. I lived in Atlanta when that happened, and watching that scene I felt this immense sense of justice, like that even the nastiest things in the world can be reversed, eventually, if decent people just keep acting decently.
But, after watching the movie, I kind of thought this not-so-charitable thought about it: really, everything I needed from it was in the preview. I mean, when I saw the beautiful, incredible preview for this movie, I was actually moved to tears by it, because, like SO MANY previews, it basically summed up the whole movie in like ninety seconds. He's poor kid, he's going blind, his mom was strong, he changed music, he stood up for himself, he met a good woman, he got into drugs, he found the strength to give them up, he triumphed. Aaaaaaaaaand that's a wrap.
It's not like I think the movie was bad in any way, I just think the preview was really, really good. And, like, maybe some stories are better in 90 seconds. You know, like how sometimes a friend will give you the blow-by-blow of a date and you're kind of like, "Was she hot? Did she like you? Ok, we're done here. Nachos?"
The music's good, though. I mean, dang, it's Ray Charles. Ray, man. The man rocked the house. Ray.