After several release dates were changed due to the pandemic, MGM has finally unveiled trailers for the highly-anticipated biopic on the life of the Queen of Soul.
The movie, “Respect,” features Jennifer Hudson in the lead role with Liesl Tommy serving as the director.
This writer had the great fortune of seeing the film just days ago during a private screening. And it’s well worth the wait that fans have had to endure.
It’s scheduled to premiere in cinemas across the U.S. on Aug. 13. And while no streaming plans have been announced, a possible acquisition of MGM by Amazon recently reported by Variety, could provide a clue of what’s instore for the brilliantly produced movie.
Hudson remains a formidable actress and holds her own in her role as Aretha. And she brings her best in singing the songs that the “Queen” rendered, catapulting them to classics within the American songbook including “Think,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Respect,” Franklin’s breakthrough song on which she and her sisters collaborated bringing a fresh sound to the Otis Redding song.
Most of the movie was filmed in my hometown of Detroit and it brought back beautiful memories of my own childhood.
Among the cast, Skye Dakota Turner portrays the young Aretha with Forest Whitaker capturing the essence of Aretha’s father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin. But for this writer’s money, the real surprise came with the stellar portrayal of Aretha’s often volatile but smooth as silk husband and manager Ted White by Marlon Wayans. Marc Maron also does a credible job as Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler.
The film counts as the second high-profile project about Aretha Franklin this year, coming on the heels of the National Geographic television series “Genius: Aretha,” released in March which also faced delays in production and its release due to the pandemic. British actress Cynthia Erivo, who starred as Aretha in “Genius,” recently learned that her performance has garnered her a nomination for an Emmy for best actress in a limited or anthology series or movie
“Respect” focuses on Franklin’s early years, including her childhood, her formative years in the church and her breakthrough to fame in 1967 with the story continuing through the early 1970s.
For those who want to know more about that period in Aretha’s life and her rise to stardom, this writer recommends you pick up a copy of “Aretha, From These Roots,” written by Franklin with David Ritz, published in 1999 by Crown Productions, Inc.
Tommy said she sought to capture the defining experiences in the young singer’s journey while removing the curtain on her private persona.
“I took some time to really ponder the parts of her life that would really have an impact on audiences,” the director said. “When I dove into the things we don’t know about her, what came to me is this should be the story of a young woman with the greatest voice in the world fighting to find her own voice.”
The film runs several hours but you probably won’t notice. And before it’s over, you’ll find yourself snapping your fingers, singing along and perhaps even trying to remember where you were and what you were doing the first time you heard the golden voice of the Queen of Soul.
Fortunately, while she’s no longer with us, we still have her music. What an amazing gift Aretha Franklin has left for us, and for future generations, to enjoy.