The movie “Ray” by Taylor Hackford depicts the life journey of Ray Charles, a famous American pianist, and singer. The plot evolves as Charles grows up, from the age of seven when he loses his vision to adulthood when he tours across the United States as a rhythm and blues performer. Throughout his career, the performer experiences bad treatment, racial prejudice, and exploitation by club owner Denise Dowse. Charles is a drug addict, which affected his professional career and relationship with his wife Della Bea. In “Ray,” the issue of substance abuse helps understand the problems that a person faces when dealing with addiction.
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Drug use is one of the central themes in this movie because the main character – Ray Charles, is an addict, and throughout this film, he faces several issues as a result of it. Firstly, Ray has a fight with his pregnant wife, Della Bea, because she finds drugs in his bag and asks him to stop using them, which implies that his addiction began a long time ago. Despite this, Ray chooses to leave Della, which is an illustration of how drug addiction adversely impacts social relationships with others. In another instance, Ray’s hotel room is searched by the police, and they find heroin, which represents the legal trouble associated with drug abuse.
Later on, Ray gets arrested in Canada for possession of heroin and is ordered to go to a rehab clinic. Therefore, although the movie aims to portray the life of a musician and performer, as well as his success, drug addiction is an inseparable part of Ray Charle’s life, and many episodes depict it.
The overall presentation of the related problems such as withdrawal, intoxication, psychological, and social issues are realistic. One of the most important scenes in this movie is Ray’s withdrawal from heroin, which he experiences in the clinic. It is a lengthy scene in which Charles is on the bed, with fever and other symptoms, experiencing hallucinations and other difficulties. As such, the drug use in “Ray” is presented negatively because the film portrays the impact of drugs on Charles’ relationship with others and his life.
Most notably, the process of treatment is a vital part of the plot, because in the end, when the singer recovers, he can live a happy life with his wife and three children.
Although this movie provides an accurate assessment of how a drug addiction manifests, it lacks the representation of how one can reach for help, especially in the early stages of addiction. To combat stereotypes about substance abuse, more attention towards the need for treatment and support from others as opposed to judgment can be helpful, although this is a bibliography. If my family members or I had a similar problem, it would be useful to gain more insight into how to get help, who to contact, and how to overcome possible psychological struggles such as shame or fear of being judged. For me, “Ray” raises several questions about the portrayal of substance abuse in films, such as the reality of substance use and the prolonged journey to recovery.
Overall, “Ray” helps its users understand the intersection of life difficulties, fame, and drug addiction using the example of famous performer Ray Charles. The facts about drug use and addiction in “Ray” are accurate. The missing information that could improve one’s understanding of the issue is the process of recovery from addiction. To combat stereotypes regarding substance abuse, similar films can focus more on how friends and family members can help a person who needs treatment.
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Hackford, T. (2004). Ray [Film]. Bristol Bay Productions.