One of the most anticipated movies for 2020 won’t arrive until another six months, but there is a lot of talk already about MGM’s Respect, the true story about Aretha Franklin the more we see and hear about the film, the better it looks.
Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice. Jennifer Hudson does the honors playing Miss Franklin. Ironically, Hudson chose a Franklin song for her audition on American Idol; a performance that Randy Jackson called “Brilliant,” which helped to jump-start her career.
Forest Whitaker plays Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin. This is a reunion of sorts for Hudson and Whitaker as Jennifer played Forest’s daughter once before in the 2013 film, Black Nativity. For that matter, this is at least the third time Whitaker has played a man of the cloth. His last was for 2019’s Burden. The all-star cast includes Mary J. Blige (who also appeared in Black Nativity), Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald and Tituss Burgess.
The movie is directed by first-timer, Liesl Tommy who is the first black woman ever nominated for a Tony award for Best Direction of a Play for the play, Eclipsed. Respect is based on a story written by Oscar winner Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise) and Tracey Scott Wilson (who also wrote the screenplay). Wilson and Tommy have worked together creatively since the 2009 play The Good Negro. Wilson wrote the script, Tommy directed it.
There is no official opening date set for Respect (given the current state of COVID-19) but it is expected to arrive in theaters sometime in December.
Main image: Marlon Wayans stars as Ted White and Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in Respect. (MGM/Quantrell D. Colbert)
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.