Known as the “Queen of Soul”, Aretha Franklin left a huge impact on the world of music. Before her death in 2018, Franklin had some creative control over director Liesl Tommy’s tribute movie, “Respect”. Franklin chose Jennifer Hudson to star in this biopic and the rest is history.
The story starts in 1952 with young Franklin, portrayed by Skye Dakota
Turner, singing in the choir of her father’s church. 10-year-old Franklin, nicknamed ReRe, was consistently woken up in the middle of the night to sing for parties thrown by her father. Many famous guests appear at this party including Duke Ellington, or as Franklin called him, “Uncle Duke”, and Ella Fitzgreald.
Turner, plays an adorable young Franklin and shocks the viewer with such a powerful voice at just 12-years-old. The film quickly transitions into Franklin’s teenage years where the audience is presented with some of the major tragedies of her life.
At 11, Franklin loses her mother suddenly. Along with the death of her mother, we learn about Franklin’s experiences with sexual abuse in her very own home. From those experiences, Franklin gives birth to two little boys; one at 13 and the other at 15.
Tommy swiftly moves away from these topics, and as the movie progresses, the audience watches Franklin grow into a young woman working to pursue her dreams in music.
Through her adult years, she deals with the misogynistic oppression from the men in her life. Along with her first husband physically abusing her, and the men she worked with to produce music, Franklin had to face being a black woman in the 1960s.
The way Tommy portrays the struggles in Franklin’s life is truly heart wrenching. The intense, traumatic scenes showing Franklin’s abuse will stick with audience members far beyond the theater.
The true star of the show, though, is Hudson’s vocals. The power and soul within her voice perfectly captures the essence of who Franklin truly was. Hearing Hudson’s rendition of “Respect” takes the audience back in time, and it feels like Franklin herself is performing right in front of your eyes.
It is hard to imagine another person fit to play Franklin. Hudson’s entire performance was absolutely breathtaking.
Despite the occasional bad wig and the awkward time jumps that skim over some important moments of Franklin’s life, “Respect” is a fitting tribute to Franklin and her powerful story.
“Respect” is rated PG-13 and is currently in theaters.