I had such high hopes for Liesl Tommy’s ‘Respect.’ I mean, Aretha Franklin played by Jennifer Hudson – a wet dream for me if there ever was one. I had been looking so forward to the film, and was disappointed when it was delayed from last year’s Oscar bait season. So now that it is finally here, is it worth my wait? Unfortunately, no. It’s a sad, sad picture. And I don’t mean sad in the melancholy sense. It’s a joyless story of a great talent.
First of all, I don’t think there is any lack in the source material. Franklin sure led a very interesting (and dramatic) life but the film felt very by-the-numbers. Worse, it tells the story so blandly without taking any kind of stands. We know that she got impregnated at an early age, but the film just skims through that. I mean, I don’t want the story to be salacious, but a little juice would have kept the film interesting. And the screenplay turns every storytelling trope there is – there i no drama or surprise to anything.
And while Hudson sings the bejesus out of the songs, the character isn’t provided any kind of depth and sorry to say she just doesn’t have the actor’s instinct that gives the role more gravitas. She was Aretha’s choice for the role and I never believed for a second that she wasn’t Jennifer Hudson playing Aretha. Skip this.