With towering musical highs and lurid lifestyle lows, Respect examines the life and times of one of the world’s great musical treasures Aretha Franklin. Its focus strays from the more salacious aspects of the great ladies’ life and becomes a more entertaining work because of it.
Even those with only a passing knowledge will know the more grim details of her life and while this exploration mentions some of those elements, it’s more a celebration of her musical identity. The behind the scenes view of songs coming together in the studio are particularly enlightening.
Jennifer Hudson delivers on the vocal histrionics and the few scenes that set out the difficult road she had to follow show her range there as well. The men in her life are given a fairly easy road as the reality of how awful they were is glossed over in pursuit of not being off-putting.
The lack of depth in the storytelling is evident early on and the filmmakers spotlight her musical endeavours first and foremost. Most completists know that the written word is almost always the provider of the most insight. The observations here place the music at the forefront and as a celebration of that part of her life, it excels.