Film review – Respect (2021)


One of the great cinema events of the past decade was the release of Amazing Grace in 2018. Long delayed for technical and legal reasons, this incredible concert film captures soul singer Aretha Franklin’s live recording of her now legendary Amazing Grace gospel album at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972. It was one of the more significant peaks in Franklin’s extraordinary career, where after a string of hit soul records she returned to the music tradition she originally came from. It is therefore fitting that this is the moment Respect, the new biopic about Franklin’s life and career, starring Jennifer Hudson, builds to, successfully conveying the significance of the Amazing Grace album in light of everything that had happened to Franklin up until that point. Like the 2018 film, it conveys the almost overwhelming sensation of what it means for Franklin to have looked back into her past in order to then look forward. The difference is, while Amazing Grace conveys the power of this moment simply through presenting Franklin’s performance, Respect relies on the very conventional structure and style of the music biopic genre, which results in something that is overall not as engaging as it should be.

Read and listen to the rest of this review at ABC Radio Melbourne