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RESPECT

RESPECT

Liesl Tommy · Canada/USA · 2021 · 146 mins · PG
IMDb

Jennifer Hudson deserves an Oscar nomination, at the very least, for her turn as Aretha Franklin in this vivid, if flawed, drama from first-timer Liesl Tommy.

We first meet the Detroit singer in 1952, aged nine (as played by Skye Dakota Turner). The story ends with Franklin recording the live gospel album Amazing Grace in 1972.

The spectacular circular shot that introduces us to Hudson encapsulates what the film gets right. The 39-year-old actress spills over with sexual energy, insecurity and determination. Just as the documentary Amy made clear that Winehouse was a songwriter as much as a singer, Respect puts a spotlight on Aretha’s talent for (re)arranging songs and making them her own. Hudson doesn’t copy Franklin’s vocal technique. What she nails is Franklin’s spirit.

This may not be a definitive account of Franklin’s life, but Hudson gives a definitive performance. Franklin had a voice that could flood rooms. Hudson, too, leaves us soaked to the skin.—London Evening Standard

“Hudson is so good and, in fact, so musically accomplished.”—Times (UK)

“The music is a joy, of course, a glorious songbook recreated by Hudson's soar and flex. But her performance is as good between the tunes. And before them.”—Financial Times

Cast Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Forest Whitaker
     
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