‘Respect’ chronicles Franklin’s life and career from her Detroit childhood, in which the young prodigy was dragged out of bed on Saturday nights to sing for her father’s famous guests, to her recording of the timeless 1972 gospel album ‘Amazing Grace’: Franklin’s career-bestselling work and, as the movie frames it, a return to the singer’s church roots that, after a low period in her life, nearly saved her.
Jennifer Hudson is captivating in the lead role, chosen specifically by Franklin herself, before she passed away in 2018. Director Tommy and writer Tracey Scott Wilson are making their cinematic debuts with this splendid retelling of Franklin’s early life and career. However, they come to the project with impressive stage backgrounds, which inform every aspect of their approach. Any stage, of course, needs a star who can command the space... and Jennifer Hudson does so, without doubt.