Coming from director Liesl Tommy and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the biopic about one of the most legendary women in music who learns to demand RESPECT.
Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson) grows up in Detroit with very controlling paster father C.L. (Forest Whitaker) in 1952. Parading her out to sing for those who visit his home, Aretha is missing her mother Barbara (Audra McDonald). When the news of her mother comes, Aretha becomes silent as her sisters Erma (Saycon Sengbloh) and Carolyn (Hailey Kilgore) can only watch is happening.
Year later, Aretha catches the eye of Ted White (Marlon Wayans) but her father immediately lets it be known that she is to stay away from him. To make that happen, Aretha discovers that she and her father will be travelling to New York to discuss a record deal with Columbia’s John Hammond (Tate Donovan).
Now she is on the road to becoming a known singer with albums of songs that are basically cover music. It is when Dinah Washington (Mary J. Blige) has it out with Aretha is she told that finding her own sound is what will get her the hits that she so desperately wants. Also, running into Ted once again does Aretha believe that she can finally have a life outside of the control of her father.
When things do not work out at Columbia, Jerry Wexler (Marc Maron) of Atlantic Records takes Aretha to Muscle Shoals and there she begins to discover the sound, words and music she had been looking for. As music becomes successful, her marriage begins to show the abuses that Aretha has been enduring.
There comes a pivotal point where Aretha must decide what is important in her life, who she can trust and who she truly loves. Once that happens, she returns to the church through her music and discovers a peace she had been longing for.
Hudson as Aretha brings the same powerful voice that Ms. Franklin brought to the music scene and the world. The quiet spoken woman who let everyone around push and pull her, turns into the quietly powerful woman who learns that she does not have to give up who she is for the sake of music or anything else for that matter. There is no doubt Hudson would bring song to the role and it is well done.
Whitaker as C.L. is so focused on being who he is and controlling who Aretha is, he is totally unaware of the reasons behind his daughter’s behavior when she was a child. Being a stage-dad puts intense pressure on Aretha until she rebels in ways that cause friction. Whitaker is stunning in this role.
Wayans as Ted is a man who clearly loves his wife though he has a funny way of showing it when he does not like something. Wayans gives a clear performance to the point where it is easy to see when the moods will change and the power in which Aretha eventually handles it.
Maron as Wexler believes in Aretha and also believes in her potential to discover her own music and her own way of recording it. The relationship between Maron and Hudson is so wonderfully done because it is a musical partnership that was always needed. Donovan as Hammond sees firsthand the pressure Aretha is under and the control her father has. Trying to help the young woman, Donovan is sympathetic and soft spoken when it comes to having a recording relationship.
Other cast includes Kelvin Hair as Sam Cooke, Heather Headley as Clara Ward, Lodric D. Collins as Smokey Robinson, Tituss Burgess as James Cleveland, Leroy McClain as Cecil Franklin, Albert Jones as Ken Cunningham. and Gilbert Glenn Brown as Martin Luther King Jr.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.
Bonus Features include The Making of RESPECT, Becoming Aretha, Capturing a Legacy, From Muscle Shoals and Exploring the Design of RESPECT.
RESPECT is filled with the music of legendary singer Aretha Franklin. The story tells us of a young girl’s life filled with trauma, the men who chose to control every move and decision of her life and, when the time came, she broke away to finally discover who and what her life was meant to be.
There is not a single person I know that does not know at least one or two of her songs. RESPECT is the opportunity for everyone to see the range of music she recorded and how it all came to be. Her life included the influence of the church, a movement and a time that she included in the sound of her music.
In the end – find out what respect truly means!