A powerhouse performance from Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls, Winnie) fails to lift this Aretha Franklin biopic out of its run-of-the-mill, episodic ordinariness.

From a star singer at an early age in the Detroit church of her megalomaniac father, C.L. Franklin (Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland, The Butler), to pregnancy at 12; from abused wife to global 1960s superstar, Respect approaches its subject with reverence and well-meaning. But there’s surprisingly little soul in director Liesl Tommy’s (TV’s Jessica Jones, The Walking Dead) telling of Franklin’s life from pre-teenage to the recording of the gospel album, Amazing Grace, in 1972.

Hudson brings the house down with her renditions of You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, Amazing Grace et al – and the film is at its sublime best when exploring the process of music making. But the spark is missing in the everyday as Franklin’s alcoholism, her father’s bullying and the violence of husband Ted White (Marlon Wayans – On the Rocks, Fifty Shades of Black) see the film degenerate generally into all round repetitive unpleasantness. And no context to that early pregnancy!

Rating: 58%


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.