Respect is for a certain crowd of a certain age. If you grew up with Aretha Franklin’s music then you know the story of her Gospel record, this biopic is much more than a fluff piece. In a way I am glad I let it sit with me after a night of sleep, rather than reviewing right away after viewing it. Jennifer Hudson is at an all time high as Aretha Franklin as she embodies herself in the role so much that you would have to remind yourself that it is in fact Jennifer Hudson.
When we are first introduced to Aretha “Ri-Ri” as they called her at the dinner party, we saw famous guests at Mr. Franklin’s house such as legendary Sam Cooke and others. One of the outstanding things they got right in the movie is that none of the music seemed like it was lip synced, even when the 10-year-old actress was playing the young Aretha. It all looked authentic.
Respect also has a scene-stealing Marc Maron whom is no stranger to recent bio pic’s with being in David Bowie’s ‘Stardust’, as the journalist following Bowie around. Marc has been some high-profile pictures since the ending of Glow, including the Oscar Winner ‘Joker’. It would not be a surprise if one day soon he found himself landing an Oscar nomination. With Forest Whitaker as Aretha Franklin’s unsettling father, he also proves he is a tour-de-force Oscar Nomination waiting to happen this year along with Jennifer Hudson. It will be interesting to see how all the voting plays out this year, as we are still living through the pandemic.
All though the performances are all five-star caliber except for Marlon Wayan’s who I was highly impressed with at first glance, then sitting on it, it felt like he was just doing an impersonation of who he was portraying instead of bringing his own swag to it like Marc Maron, Jennifer Hudson, and Forest Whitaker all provided with their characters. The main beef I have with Respect is the runtime for this kind of story is rather long, at almost two in a half hour long. It needed to trim down the third act quite a bit in my opinion.
Overall, Respect is a solid entry into the ever-growing sub-genre of bio pics. It features sublime and sobering performances from most of the cast involved, even if the Franklin sisters are just glorified extras in this story. It is worth renting at home as it is now on PVOD for 20 dollars.
Overall grade: 3.5/5 stars
Written By: AJ Friar