Review: Aretha Franklin bio ‘Respect’ maybe too respectful
Written by oasis96.3 on August 10, 2021
(Yahoo) – The tag line for the latest biopic about an American icon reads: “Find out what it means.” Good luck with that.
After more than two hours of the new messy Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect,” it’s not clear what it means, wasting a lot of superb screen talent in the slapdash process.
This time it’s Jennifer Hudson portraying the Queen of Soul — a few months after Cynthia Erivo played Franklin in a National Geographic TV series — and you won’t be able to leave the theater without a lot of respect — yes, R-E-S-P-E-C-T — for Hudson’s abilities.
The script by Tracey Scott Wilson (“Fosse/Verdon”) is a collection of scenes that don’t add up to much, never really building and interrupted — by necessity, of course — with overly long music sequences. This film needed someone to sharpen and clarify. It needed what Franklin was, an ideal interpreter.
This film, unsurprisingly, is strongest whenever the music takes over, especially when Hudson opens her mouth and musical sparks fly or when we’re shown Franklin feeling for her own sound, which we are reminded didn’t happen for several albums.
A sequence in an Alabama recording studio when she and her white band are creating “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” is tense and excellent, as is when she stumbles into reworking Otis Redding’s “Respect” around a piano with her sisters in their pajamas.
The film ends with Franklin at 29 recording her landmark album “Amazing Grace,” and another 360-degree camera turn around her face. Alas, the film itself has grace but is not really amazing at all.