'Respect' (2021) Review: Requiem For A Queen
There are many roles that feel like the result of divine intervention. Actors who come along at the right time for the performance they were born to play. For Jennifer Hudson, that destiny is manifested in ‘Respect’, as she pays tribute to the Queen of Soul. Hudson was even selected by Franklin herself. Still, while the royal appointment was made, the rest of the film had the work of doing justice to the story of an icon.
Thankfully, ‘Respect’ delivers. The film is a moving story that chronicles the journey of a young woman beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. From her controlling father to her abusive husband, much of Aretha Franklin’s story is portrayed as a tale of the world’s strongest voices being silenced at every turn.
The darker elements of this biopic give the movie a sense of despair, yet through it all Hudson gives Franklin a quiet resilience. There’s a confidence she has in moments of dread. Whether it’s confidence in her talent, or her trust in the Lord, Hudson moves with a faith that’s tested repeatedly throughout the film.
The movie is also a who’s who of 60s and 70s. Legends like Dinah Washingston and Smokey Robinson make brief appearances. Beyond the music, the film makes a point of Franklin’s activism. ‘Respect’ is a wide reaching and expansive film that takes a person who was larger than life and tries to fit in within a comfortable 2 hours and 20 minutes. For the most part, it succeeds. While some elements feel slightly underdone, it’s Hudson that brings the film together.
It’s an impressive performance that is only outdone by the film’s numerous musical arrangements. The most famous of Aretha Franklin’s catalogue gets played with the film tying them together with the narrative. While some moments feel forced, others feel orchestrated, giving the movie some of its most standout moments.
Rating: Big Screen Watch
Note: With the recent restrictions imposed in the fight against Covid-19, cinemas are suffering now more than ever. While I appreciate you reading this review, movies are still incredibly subjective. If you think you might enjoy yourself, I encourage everyone to support the cinema industry as much as they can, and safely enjoy an evening at the movies. Stay safe, and remember, life’s too short for bad movies.