Respect (2021)

Forest Whitaker,Marlon Wayans,Tate Donovan,Audra McDonald
In 1952, 10-year-old Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson) lives with her father C.L. (Forest Whitaker), her brother Cecil (Leroy McClain), and her sisters Erma (Saycon Sengbloh) and Carolyn (Hailey Kilgore) in Detroit, Michigan. C.L., pastor of the largest Baptist church in Detroit, frequently entertained large parties of friends and acquaintances at home. CL is divorced from his wife Barbara. The predatory actions of an adult friend of the family, coinciding with the sudden death of her mother, Barbara (Audra McDonald), traumatizes Aretha. She ceases to speak for weeks, until her father demands that she sing in front of their congregation at church. She does not reveal that she was assaulted, nor does she reveal the name of the man who caused her to become pregnant.Seven years later, Aretha, now a teen mother of two boys. she is touring with CL, supporting Martin Luther King, in mobilizing support for his movement, by singing songs. She meets Ted White (Marlon Wayans), a local producer, at a party at her father's house. The two strike up a conversation before being interrupted by C. L., who warns Ted to stay away from his family. Later, C. L. surprises Aretha with tickets to New York for a meeting with Columbia Records executive John Hammond (Tate Donovan). After being offered a contract, Aretha begins to sing jazz records with Columbia, including "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive."Four albums later, Aretha still lacks a signature hit as a jazz singer. In a club one evening, she announces she will be singing a tribute to inspiration and longtime family friend Dinah Washington (Mary J. Blige), who is in the audience; as Aretha begins to sing one of Dinah's songs, Dinah becomes outraged and makes a scene. Later, Dinah advises Aretha to find songs that move her, and stop trying to fit the polished image her father wants her to project. Aretha has had 4 albums so far, but no hits.Aretha connects again with Ted, with whom she begins a relationship. Frustrated by her lack of success after nine albums, Aretha begins skipping recording sessions to see him, embarrassing her father. Much to the chagrin of her sisters and the dismay of their father, Aretha returns home to introduce Ted to her family. After Ted and her father have a verbal disagreement, Aretha announces her plans to have Ted become her manager; her father begrudgingly consents. But he vows never to manager her career again.Two years later in 1966, Ted and Aretha marry and have a child. Aretha is dropped by Columbia (as she has gone 9 albums without a hit). Ted secures a deal with veteran record producer Jerry Wexler (Marc Maron) of Atlantic Records, who pairs her with accomplished musicians in Muscle Shoals, where Aretha begins to record her first hit, "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)". However, the recording session is cut short after Ted gets into a fight with the manager of the studio. The studio is made up of all white musicians and Ted believes that they are insulting to niggers and are hitting on Aretha. After an altercation with Ted results in a black eye, Aretha returns home to Detroit. With her family, she hears her own song recorded in Muscle Shoals on the radio, empowering her to take a more hands-on role in her career. She places a call to Jerry Wexler, telling him she is ready to work. One night, Aretha and Carolyn are inspired to re-arrange Otis Redding's song "Respect," which becomes a #1 single. Aretha enters her golden years in 1968. She owns the category of soul music.Before a concert, Dr. Martin Luther King (Gilbert Glenn Brown), a longtime family friend of the Franklins, honors Aretha with an award from the Southern Christian Leadership Center for Aretha's unwavering support of the Movement and proclaims February 16 as "Aretha Franklin Day" in Detroit. Aretha sings another signature hit, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." She makes plans to sing for another civil rights event one weekend in Memphis, which Ted forbids her to do, as he had arranged for her to meet with Wexler and other executives to discuss the prospect of a tour In Europe to whip up appetite for her upcoming album. Aretha openly defies Ted, and he assaults her in a hotel elevator. Jerry promises her a payday of $250k from the tour. But Ted is hostile, as he wants Arethe to consider TV and movie deals in the US, that don't pay nearly as much. The tour goes ahead. Ted is nothing but an obstacle as he objects to every little thing on tour. In Europe, Time magazine publishes an article depicting Ted's abuse towards Aretha, witnessed by guests and staff in the hotel lobby, an angry Ted confronts Aretha, causing her to end their relationship.After the breakdown of her marriage to Ted, Aretha begins dating her tour manager Ken Cunningham (Albert Jones), and eventually has her fourth child. Another seven years later, after learning of Dr. King's assassination, Aretha's distraught father drunkenly argues with her over the direction of the Movement, expressing doubt in the younger generation's patience and ability to make long-term gains. Aretha expresses her full support of the Movement, and C.L., further angered, tells Aretha that she no longer walks in the spirit.Aretha continues to release hits but overworks herself to the point of burnout: she double-books and cancels appearances, and copes with the pressure of her profession by increasingly turning to alcohol and drugs. Aretha's siblings attempt to stage an intervention, but Aretha suspects they are jealous, and angrily tells them they are supported by her success. During another overseas performance, a drunken Aretha falls from the stage, and Ken tells her he can't be with her anymore. Aretha continues to tailspin downward, finally hitting bottom during a drinking binge at home. She sees a vision of her late mother, who consoles her, and she finds the strength to quit drinking, leading to Ken reconciling with her.Aretha becomes convinced that she must return to her gospel roots, and approaches Wexler with the idea of creating a gospel album, which she wishes to produce herself. Doubtful of the album's ability to sell, Wexler attempts to dissuade her before relenting on the condition that she allow the recording of the album to be filmed for a documentary.Aretha begins rehearsals for her gospel album with family friend James Cleveland (Tituss Burgess), now a respected gospel artist. On the day of the album's recording, Aretha's father arrives to be a part; he apologizes to Aretha for the pain he has caused her. The service begins and Aretha is introduced. As she makes her way to the front of the church, she greets each of her family members - but does not acknowledge her father. She ascends to the stage and sings her arrangement of the hymn, Amazing Grace. Her live album of the same name became the highest-selling album of her career, earning a double platinum certification with over two million copies sold in the United States.
  • 12 Aug 2021 Released:
  • 08 Nov 2021 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • N/A Writer:
  • Liesl Tommy Director:
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