“Respect” (MGM/United Artists)
By Catholic News Service
Engaging profile of singer, songwriter, musician and activist Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson), the “Queen of Soul,” traces her life from a childhood (during which she’s played by Skye Dakota Turner) marked by sexual abuse and the untimely death of her mother (Audra McDonald) through the frustrations of her early career and on to the triumphant success of her version of the titular song and her subsequent global celebrity.
Screenwriter Tracey Scott Wilson and director Liesl Tommy show that their subject came by her feminist forcefulness honestly as she struggles first under the domination of her father (Forest Whitaker), a celebrated Baptist minister, and then under the spell of her charming but physically abusive first husband (Marlon Wayans) who was also her manager. And they highlight her dedicated work for the civil rights movement. But it’s the constant and salutary role her Christian faith played in her life, especially as she battled alcoholism, that will most engross those who share her Bible-based beliefs.
Hudson’s all-in performance helps to mask the fact that the film is overlong and unevenly paced.
Implied sexual and briefly shown spousal abuse, an adulterous bedroom scene, mature themes, including out-of-wedlock births and addiction, a fleeting hint of an incidental homosexual relationship, a couple of profanities, about a half-dozen milder oaths, occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.