Respect is the 2021 biopic of icon Aretha Franklin which was directed by Liesl Tommy and is her first big feature! I will admit that my knowledge of Aretha Franklin extends to the song Respect and also the fact that she sang America the Beautiful at WrestleMania III. Still, I am a huge fan of biopics, even if I am not too familiar with who they are based on, plus this featured the immensely talented Jennifer Hudson in the title role.
How to Stream or Download Respect (2021)
You can stream it or you can download the film from a digital store. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice. If you like biographical films about musicians, check out also Bohemian Rhapsody and I Can Only Imagine.
The Movie Review
An interesting bit of trivia is that there is a wrestling link between Jennifer Hudson and Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin famously performed at a WrestleMania and Jennifer Hudson’s ex-husband; David Otunga was actually a wrestler for the WWE. Jennifer Hudson is great in everything that she is in, heck here singing Memory was the only bright light in the god-awful Cats movie!
Besides Jennifer Hudson, Respect also has a solid supporting cast with the likes of Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, and Marc Maron to name a few. However, as you would expect, Jennifer Hudson is the star here. She is playing Aretha Franklin and it is a great tribute, but she is putting her own spin on it and as always her voice is phenomenal.
While I liked the movie, it is a bit formulaic with the way it tells the story, but to be fair it is a music biopic and most of them follow the same formula. The story of the movie takes us from when Aretha Franklin was a child and all the way up to the recording of an iconic live album in the early 70s. As someone who was not familiar with her story, I was shocked at how many hardships she had to deal with.
In addition to her becoming a singing superstar, we have some heavy stuff to deal with as well. There is the civil rights movement, alcohol troubles, and issues with her father. It is pretty powerful stuff, but the movie spends a lot of time explaining each and everything. In one way this is great, but it does mean that the movie has a rather slow pace.
That is not a great thing as this has a runtime of the better part of two and a half hours and it certainly felt like it. Again, I liked this movie, but I think that certain things could have been streamlined or at the very least made a bit more interesting. It would be very interesting to hear what someone who is a huge Aretha Franklin fan thought of the movie.
Of course, the music is the real draw for this movie and I was very, very impressed. Actually, my wife was so into it, that she bought the vinyl soundtrack. As well as sounding amazing, the movie looks great too, I think they did a wonderful job with the costumes and the set design to give this a very authentic kind of look to it.
I have seen many musical biopics, including some about artists I was not all that familiar with, and while most do follow the same formula that we have here with Respect. I just felt that this one tried a bit too hard to go into great depth with everything that happened in her life. To be fair, they wanted to do her story justice and I can appreciate that, but it does make the movie drag.
- Jennifer Hudson is just amazing in this role
- As you would expect the soundtrack is fantastic
- I learned a great deal about the life of Aretha Franklin
- The aesthetic of the movie is very mesmerizing
- The movie draws things out far too much
- It is a two and a half hour movie that feels like it lasts around three