Director: Liesl Tommy
Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Marlon Wayans, Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, Titus Burgess, Marc Maron, Mary J Blige, Dakota, Kimberly Scott and Albert Jones
Jennifer Hudson delivers a “grab ya wig” performance in Respect. The Academy Award winner embodies the mannerisms, nuisances and vocals that demonstrate why Franklin selected Hudson for the role n 2016. The film tracks the prodigious singer’s journey to stardom; allowing audiences to see her struggles with the music industry, alcohol, family and love. The critical points of Franklin’s life are highlighted and/or celebrated throughout the film but the finer details are missing from this biopic.
Respect mentions pivotal moments in Franklin’s past instead of peeling back the layers of a story, it leaves the audiences with a Google for more information feel by moving to the next performance or story. For instance, exploring the situation that led to the iconic singer having children at an early age or the impact of her father’s death is barely referenced or mentioned at all. Whereas other documentaries have provided a well-rounded view of the singer’s life. I do appreciate the film efforts to display the challenge Franklin experienced with finding her voice and making hit music. For example, she battles her father, husband and record label to create the music she wants the sing; something artists still struggle with today.
Speaking of Respect…let’s put some on Marlon Wayans name. Marlon Wayans nails this dramatic role as Ted White (Franklin’s ex-husband) followed by Titus Burgess, Mary J Blige and Skye Dakota (young Aretha) all turn in amazing performances. Forest Whitaker and Audra McDonald supply an emotional range from compassion to rage, adding to the complexities of the film. Lastly, Marc Maron is the unsung hero of the movie. The relationship he cultivates with Franklin moves the film and allows audiences to see her growth as a woman and entertainer.
If you miss the sounds, fashions and feels of the late 60s and early 70s check out Respect. Clint Ramos, Andrea Bowman and Libra Cordero slayed the looks for the film.