On the one hand, this looks amazing (and we weren’t entirely convinced it would at one time). On the other hand…
We cringed a little at the way they hammered the “RESPECT” theme, which seems a little obvious and heavy-handed, never mind feeling the need to explain how the backup singers came up with the “Re, Re, Re” line. Still, this looks a whole hell of a lot more on point than Cynthia Erivo’s recent attempt to play the legendary Aretha Franklin. And it shouldn’t be ignored that the Queen herself hand-picked Jennifer Hudson to play her. Hudson’s clearly got the pipes for it, although we think the film overplays the glamour just a skosh. Franklin was certainly a glamorous figure, but part of what set her apart from other soul singers of the period was how willing she was to ditch the glamour and work up a sweat on stage.
But there’s no denying that this has “prestige biopic” written all over it and it almost feels like a foregone conclusion that Hudson’s going to pick up an Oscar nomination for this.
And of course the costumes look amazing:
And we are HERE for Mary J. Blige as the great Dinah Washington. We suspect this will be a somewhat sanitized and glamourized version of Aretha’s life, but we’re pretty sure that’s exactly how the Queen would’ve wanted her story told.
Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, RESPECT is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.
Starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Audra McDonald as Barbara Franklin, Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, Kimberly Scott as Mama Franklin, Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin, Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin, Heather Headley as Clara Ward, Skye Dakota Turner as Young Aretha Franklin, Tate Donovan as John Hammond and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington
Director Liesl Tommy makes her feature film debut with Respect. Tommy is the first Black woman ever nominated for a Tony Award® for Best Direction of a Play in 2016 for Eclipsed, and is an Associate Artist at the Berkeley Rep and an Artist Trustee with the Sundance Institute’s Board of Trustees.
[Photo Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures – Video Credit: MGM via YouTube]
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