• Ellis Barthorpe

Respect ★★★

Liesl Tommy

Starring Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron

With a biopic comes similar beats, similar stories and that uncomfortable wonder of lack of consent. Respect looks amazing, sounds amazing and is delivered by confident actors, but it falls into a problem that most biopics possess.


Aretha Franklin is one of the greatest soul singers in history. Her memorable hits and husky voice have graced our ears for decades, and she is the next subject in a line of music biopics about a talented yet troubled megastar.

That megastar is played by Jennifer Hudson. It’s a confident performance with nuance to the vocals that familiarise an audience with the Queen of Soul’s own voice. Her supporting cast are equally gripping; becoming hated and loved in the places that they should be.


Although the film does focus in places on Aretha commanding the recording studio, it takes a while to get there, and when it does it’s very quick to rush forward onto the next piece of drama.

And in musical moments you’re left wanting to just watch Aretha herself sing the numbers (which the film even highlights in its credits).


The production design is amazing with spectacular costumes bursting out of every corner of the screen. The staged scenes are amazing, setting is sublime and to look at, this film is a real beauty.

But where this film propels itself in production design it ironically lacks "respect"; as dramatic moments seem more interesting to the writers than how powerful she was as an artist.


Outstaying it’s welcome and focusing on the wrong parts of her life, the Aretha biopic looks and sounds amazing, but so did the Queen herself…so just watch and listen to her!


Respect available in cinemas now

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