While David Bowie’s biopic, Stardust, was quietly released on OCS and Celine Dion’s fake biopic, Aline, will finally be able to land in theaters after months of delays (it’s pretty good on top of that), a new celebrity from the song This joins a long list of stars who have had the rights to their biopics in theaters in recent years: Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Souls is at the center of the Liesl Tommy-directed Tribute and its cast Jennifer Hudson is already a serious contender for the 2022 Oscars.
A few months before Respect hit theaters, Billie Holiday, A State Affair, came out. Directed by Lee Daniels, it returns to the singer of the same name and in particular his journey is full of traps between drugs, men, racism and especially the injustice experienced with the government, where he has become a target for assassination because of his repertoire of music. committed. Overall, the film suffers from haphazard narrative choices and misses everything it does visually, to the effect of its shaky style.
However, there is a desire to do well at Billie Holiday, or even better, to stand out. And even if the whole thing falls into excess over time, the film has an almost unique identity within the well-known biographical genre. With Regards, director Liesl Tommy did exactly the opposite and was simply following in the much-anticipated trail.
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You might as well say it right away: reading Aretha Franklin’s Wikipedia page, as long as it is, will always be a valuable time to win rather than sneak into this 2h25 biopic. It’s not that feature films are undrinkable, but nothing that makes you want to bond with them because they align genre cliches without narrative or aesthetic originality.
A chronologically told story, the Queen of Souls’ entire life passes in front of the camera: youth, precocious talent, teen rape, unwanted pregnancy, father abuse, maternal death, abusive husband and manager. moreover … With a few exceptions, Liesl Tommy thought of all the turning points in his star life. So many things that in the end, no one has time to actually live on the screen. And in terms of staging, this film definitely lacks panache, with its clean and unflattering imagery (fake archival images, we’ve seen them everywhere).
With the personality of Aretha Franklin, this young director still has something to offer a less generic and more intimate, more committed look. After all, the singer was a great civil rights activist and her commitment even earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush. He specifically paid tribute to Martin Luther King in a song during his funeral with His Majesty God, Take My Hand. Beyond that, her desire to be independent as an artist and especially as a black woman can be an interesting angle to follow from start to finish.
Unfortunately, if subjects are mentioned, they are never the object of deep development, feature films prefer to combine hits, lengthy argument sequences and finally the famous final explanatory sentence, revealing all that could not come close to the story. And while the tragic loss of Aretha Franklin’s mother is a rather interesting idea, it never delivers on the emotions it should have evoked.
There is still Jennifer Hudson’s interpretation. The 2007 Oscar-winning actress for Dreamgirls had been chosen by the Queen personally before her death in 2018. And it has to be said that her choice was more than timely. The actress was a huge (and only) film success as she monopolized the screen and provided a voice with a certain talent (Hudson is also a soul singer, this is a real advantage).
The most interesting scene of the film too is where he pushes the song or rather, where he creates his planetary hit. Between melody, pitch, pitch changes, rhythm or chords, the creative process is fun to follow and the camera becomes more spontaneous. We can even see how the actress seems to have taken on some kind of mission to honor Aretha Franklin. Too bad he’s the only one who shows it’s so strong.