Friday, August 20, 2021

Respect - 2 Stars - August 13, 2021 - IN THEATERS

Jennifer Hudson clearly enjoys the chance to cover Aretha Franklin's greatest hits in Respect, the film biography of Franklin's life.  Aretha's music soars in various recreations of studios and stages.  The extraordinary songs fit between an ordinary Behind the Music style rise and fall and rise again.  We meet Franklin as a pre teen prodigy singing for her father's friends at Saturday night parties.  Fans know of the pain of Aretha's mother's divorce and early death, as well as Aretha's early pregnancies, portrayed with a hint that adult abuse caused them.  We never see her powerful father's response to that situation, even as  Forest Whitaker gives Reverend Franklin menace and determination to control Aretha and her career.  Respect feels constrained, as opposed to the recent Tina Turner documentary or the movie of Turner's life What's Love Got to Do with It.  If you want a more realistic sense of Franklin, watch Amazing Grace the documentary of her gospel album in 1972 kept under wraps until recently due I imagine to business, and rights as well as production problems.  Respect approaches Franklin with respect as well a a sense of holding back.  If you go, go for the music.