Flash Movie Review: Respect
WE WERE WAITING FOR OVER AN hour past the designated time, before she walked out on stage. No announcement, no greetings; she barely even looked out at us. I was excited to see her perform live since I had been listening to her songs for some years. When she stepped out onto the stage all of us got up out of our seats and cheered for her, immediately forgetting the long delay. She was dressed in a long, peach colored dress that sparkled under the spotlights. Musicians flooded out from both sides of the stage, quickly making their way to their spots. A grand piano sat just off center of the stage that a man walked up to and sat down. He began to fiddle with a stack of sheet music he had carried with, pulling out several sheets that he placed on top of the piano. She stood next to the microphone stand, watching him with a look on her face like a mother irritated for reminding her child it was bedtime. With everyone settled into their spot, the man at the piano struck a key with his finger while the other hand moved up and down as he snapped his fingers. The band started and the singer turned her back to us as she began to sing one of her songs. Throughout the entire concert I only saw her face a couple of times. AFTER THAT SHOW, I VOWED I would never spend money to go see her in concert. She was the first musical artist I ever saw live in concert who did not say one word between singing her songs. I was not the only one who felt this way. During her song “Respect,” someone sitting near me yelled out, “Why don’t you give us some respect?” I remember sitting there at one point and wondering if she had forgotten how a song gets to be #1 on the music charts. It gets there based on sales and downloads. In other words, it is the fans who buy and listen to the song that determine its rank. I understand everyone has a “bad” day; I know I do. However, I do not let my issues interfere with my job. It makes no sense for me to unload my frustrations onto someone else, especially since they have not been part of the problem. Despite my feelings about the musical artist Aretha Franklin, I went to see this movie with an open mind and as usual avoided hearing and reading any reviews about it beforehand. AT AN EARLY AGE THERE WAS something special about the little girl’s singing. At times, it would be the only thing that saves her. With Jennifer Hudson (Cats, Black Nativity) as Aretha Franklin, Forest Whitaker (Black Panther, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey) as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans (A Haunted House franchise, On the Rocks) as Ted White, Tituss Burgess (Then Came You, Are you Joking?) as James Cleveland and Audra McDonald (Hello Again, The Good Fight-TV) as Barbara; this biographical musical drama survived because of Jennifer and Forest. She was incredible in the role and I can see why Aretha hand picked her to play the role. The musical numbers were the highlight for me; as for the other scenes, they felt sanitized. It was as if every scene was done with the idea of scratching only the surface of the event to keep things clean and tidy. I felt the script, based on true events, was scrubbed of any scenes that would place Aretha in a “bad light.” It was as if scenes with strong emotions on display were being dialed down. Again, the performances were terrific as was the musical scenes; but by the end of the film, I was a bit numb about the whole thing—except the ending scene during the start of the credits.
2 ½ stars