Movie review: Respect
Not to be confused with the other Aretha Franklin biopic out earlier this year (Season 3 of the National Geographic anthology series Genius starring Cynthia Erivo), Respect - opening in cinemas here tomorrow - is the Oscar bait feature film version.
Jennifer Hudson was always the Queen of Soul's pick for this long-gestating project, and Franklin herself was involved in pre-production up until her death at the age of 76 in 2018, which pretty much makes this the official last word.
Respect follows key moments in the music diva's colourful, dramatic life and career, while she grapples with the trauma of losing her mother at age 10 and being impregnated at 12, and then enduring an abusive husband-manager (Marlon Wayans), patriarchal preacher father (Forest Whitaker) and alcohol addiction on her ascent to international superstardom.
Oscar winner Hudson brings the bombast, pathos and heavenly vocal chops in a winning powerhouse performance. It is a pity her star vehicle is hardly a showstopper and lacks soul.
Even in 145 minutes, it is near impossible to do full justice to Franklin's amazing story of resilience. So the end result may be formulaic and by the book, but the subject still earns our utmost respect. - JEANMARIE TAN