22. November 2021 – 11:39 clock

Los Angeles (AP) – Bringing the life story of Aretha Franklin credibly and grippingly onto the screen stands or falls with the cast. After all, the “Queen of Soul” was an exceptional singer.

Now the Hollywood biography “Respect” is coming to the cinemas about the music legend – with Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson in the lead role. The choice of Hudson was an express wish of the soul icon, who died of cancer in 2018. They were friends for years.

All-rounder with a powerful voice

In 2004 the completely unknown Hudson made it into the talent show “American Idol” with her interpretation of the Franklin hit “Share Your Love with Me”. A little later, the young singer was allowed to open a concert for Franklin. In 2006 her Oscar breakthrough followed with the film musical “Dreamgirls”. At a tribute to the soul diva in 2014, Hudson delighted with a medley of Franklin’s greatest hits – “Think”, “Respect”, “Natural Woman” and “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You”. This enabled the all-rounder with the power voice to play the main role in the long-planned biopic.

“Respect” begins in Detroit in 1952. Little Aretha (Skye Dakota Turner), nicknamed “Ree”, sings with a powerful voice in her father’s (Forest Whitaker) house. The charismatic preacher and activist has invited party guests like Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. Aretha was practically born with music, and her mother is also a gifted pianist and singer. But the “demons” who haunted Franklin for a long time quickly emerge.

The broken marriage of the parents, the death of his mother shortly before Aretha’s tenth birthday, her first pregnancy at the age of twelve, the second child at the age of 14. Franklin kept her painful private life under lock and key throughout her life. “Respect” only marginally touches on the tragic experiences of her childhood and youth. Director Liesl Tommy gives a little more space to the complicated relationship with the strict father and the first marriage with her manager Ted White (Marlon Wayans), which was characterized by abuse.

The incredible career of the “Queen of Soul”

In her directorial debut, the native South African Tommy pays the legendary artist a lot of respect. The strokes of fate in Franklin’s life are more reflected in the emotional power of her music. “Respect” captures the incredible career of the “Queen of Soul”, from her beginnings in the church choir to a globally celebrated superstar, from her power as a civil rights activist to multiple Grammy award winner.

Jennifer Hudson (40) as Aretha on the piano and microphone provides countless goosebumps moments. There are triumphant appearances in New York’s Madison Square Garden or in Paris, but also a nightly jam session with her sisters when she rearranged the title song “Respect” by Otis Redding. This song becomes a hymn for the women’s and civil rights movement. Also stirring is a studio scene with a group of white musicians in Alabama. After an initial bias when recording “I Never Loved a Man”, the singer grew beyond herself and carried the studio musicians away with her.

The singer Mary J. Blige has a small but striking appearance in the role of the blues icon Dinah Washington. In a club Washington meets the young Franklin, who at this point is still without a hit and has doubts about her career. “Honey, find songs that move you,” advises Washington. “If you can’t do that, you won’t get any further”.

Hudson finds access to the legend

With her portrayal of Franklin, Jennifer Hudson has come a big step further. In interviews she refers to the close connection between her and the soul diva. “We talked about their lives for a long time,” Hudson told the San Francisco Chronicle in August, until Franklin died in 2018 at the age of 76. “She was a savior and in many ways an advisor for me,” said the Oscar winner, who had to overcome many strokes of fate herself. In 2008 her mother, brother and a young nephew were murdered in Chicago.

Hudson sees other personal parallels, such as her belief and love for gospel music. Franklin’s legendary appearance in 1972 with the song “Amazing Grace” in a Baptist church in Los Angeles is a highlight of the biopic. Franklin’s voice is inimitable, but Hudson found access to the legend to suit its tone.

Respect, USA 2021, 146 Min, FSK ab 12, von Liesl Tommy, mit Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 211118-99-45516 / 4

Source: DPA


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