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Respect Review

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PG-13.     145 min


There's a little bit of a spoiler alert I don't think it's really a deal-breaker but you might prefer to see the movie and find out the events as they unfold. Up to you.

To be honest I wasn't sure I'd like this one. Main reason is biopics seem to take just about the same course every time. Not always of course, but usually the producers take a handful of fact that any fan of the artist already seems to know and pretend it's a revelation. For instance, Freddie Mercury Elton John and Brian Epstein were gay! And a bunch of record companies Turn Down the Beatles. No s*** Sherlock. Still even though most of America looks at Aretha Franklin as one of the greatest voices of a generation the story of her life isn't common knowledge. At least it wasn't to me. Second, I might not have guessed that Jennifer Hudson's acting chops were almost as strong as her voice. I also worried about today's politically correct climate assigning whitewash and or blame to some of the things that happened. Glad to see that none of my fears were unfounded. Hudson was wonderful. She doesn't naturally look like Aretha but costume, makeup, camera shots Etc made her believable within the first few minutes. And she really can sing. One of the things I had no idea about was it Ms Franklin was born into a reasonably upper middle-class family,  father Cecil Franklin the successful minister in a large church where  Aretha first displayed her vocal talents and charisma. The old man is not a particularly likable character as often times he forced the young child to sing for the purpose of promoting his own stature in the congregation. From her father some of the record labels and her controlling and overbearing ex-husband she was pushed around and subjugated by others for the early portion of her career. Maybe that's why when she realized how much power she actually had, she fell prey bad behavior drugs and alcohol. The self-realization came about just around the time she visited the Muscle Shoals recording facility of course run by some very soulful rednecks where she was encouraged to sing what she felt not what others told her to sing.  Thanks to that advice, her career took an upward spike. With that success came an abrupt about-face but not all for the good. A lot of great artists don't get past those periods of their lives but thanks to God's grace and her faith Aretha Franklin overcame it. With the new confidence that her come-to-Jesus moment gave her, she demanded the record company release at all gospel album which she insisted on producing herself. Reluctantly the executive gave in and with a roll of the Heavenly dice it became the biggest selling gospel album in history of the world. Yes, her life may have been a battle at times fraught with obstacles and bad times but at the end it all comes down to the old saying “All's well that ends well.” Today rather than being remembered as a tragic figure like Billie Holiday Aretha Franklin is remembered that's one of the greatest artists  of a all time.




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