Arts

New to stream: Aretha biopic Respect 'more reverential than revelatory', The Expanse returns for sixth and final series...

Respect: Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin
Damon Smith

RESPECT (Cert 12, 145 mins, MGM/Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Drama/Romance/Musical, available now via Premium Video On Demand rental, available to rent from December 13 on BT TV Store/iTunes/Prime Video/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from December 13 on DVD £19.99)

Starring: Jennifer Hudson, Marlon Wayans, Forest Whitaker, Hailey Kilgore, Saycon Sengbloh, Mary J Blige, Kimberly Scott, Marc Maron, Audra McDonald.

FROM an early age, formidable Baptist minister CL Franklin (Forest Whitaker) showcases the soaring vocals of third child Aretha (Jennifer Hudson) to friends and family, including singer Dinah Washington (Mary J Blige).

His pride creates tension with his estranged wife Barbara (Audra McDonald).

"Your daddy doesn't own your voice. Nobody does… but God," the mother tenderly reminds Aretha.

Barbara dies of a heart attack and Aretha relies on sisters Carolyn (Hailey Kilgore) and Erma (Saycon Sengbloh) and her grandmother (Kimberly Scott) for emotional ballast.

As Aretha's grief subsides, supplanted by devotion to her father's flock at New Bethel Baptist Church, CL takes a deep personal interest in his daughter's contract with Columbia Records.

None of her singles are hits and smooth-talking ladies' man Ted White (Marlon Wayans) persuades Aretha to let him manage her fortunes both inside and out of the bedroom.

Galvanised by Hudson's radiant performance, Respect is an overlong biopic of a music star including a recreation of the 1968 Madison Square Gardens concert where Aretha preaches the title track to her congregation.

Whitaker radiates righteous indignation but Wayans is an ill fit for a hot-headed brute, not that the script gives him a great deal to work with beyond a couple of fist-pounding outbursts.

If director Liesl Tommy's picture was simply a concert film to showcase Hudson's mastery of her instrument, it would be a bona fide chart-topper.

Unfortunately, the emotional drama requires meaty verses to support the rousing choruses and Tracey Scott Wilson's screenplay is more reverential than revelatory, following an achingly familiar narrative arc from abuse (sexual, domestic, alcohol) and manipulation to tear-stained emancipation.

Rating: 3/5

THE EXPANSE – SEASON 6 (6 episodes, starts streaming from December 10 exclusively on Prime Video, Sci-Fi/Drama/Romance)

THE sixth and final series of the award-winning sci-fi drama, adapted from a series of novels written by James SA Corey, reveals whether the last fragments of humanity will come together in a time of conflict or our differences will ultimately divide and destroy us.

At the conclusion of the last series, Rocinante pilot Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) paid a terrible price for his heroic endeavours, ship's captain James Holden (Steven Strait) fell for a deception, and duplicitous UN Deputy Undersecretary Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) glimpsed a possible route to victory against the Inaros.

In these concluding six instalments, Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander) wields great power but some decisions have devastating consequences.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Arts