The rise of Aretha Franklin from a child singing in her father’s church choir to becoming an international superstar and the struggles that all brought, throughout her very complex and complicated life.
Aretha Franklin was referred to as the “Queen of Soul” and with that title alone she deserved so much better a tribute than this tame and soul-less biopic. A massive shame really as I had been really looking forward to it, I think music biopics usually work out in the best possible manner but this one should have been so much more.
It was always going to be very tricky to tell the story of her life with being pregnant at the age of 12 and then 14, without going into the abuse suffered for that to happen. Although it is still not fully known who the father(s) of the boys were. That was obviously something they did not really want to go into and it was skipped over really. Even trying to find information out about that is difficult with a lot of rumours, but one thing is for sure is that she was abused in the worst possible way.
Throughout the film it was difficult to judge how old she was supposed to be as we very quickly went from a child to Jennifer Hudson, who I must add they did nothing to make her look like Franklin. I didn’t want her to be fully identical but it was just Jennifer Hudson trying to sound like her rather than actually becoming her (I really hope that makes sense as I know what I mean). Even the vocals weren’t that impressive either.
So basically they tried to follow the tried and tested music star biopic and it yes it went for that formula but it could have been so much more, it could have focused on turning the abuse into the drive to succeed and delved deeper into the protesting she took part in especially with Martin Luther King Jr. (that was the one and only thing I learnt from the film). They tried to make her father and his church look like it was good, but a quick google search tells you how truly vile it all was.
Her first marriage was abusive and that did create some rather difficult scenes to watch and turning to alcohol even more during and after that. She certainly did not have an easy life at all, but moments were just brushed aside instead of really getting deeper into them and focusing on how she managed to heal and move forward, the support from her family to stop the full self destruction maybe?
So my waiting to see this film was not at all lived up to considering how disappointing the film was, I mean throwing in more music could have bridged some of the gaps? The only other interesting part was about the Gospel album filmed in the church that no one expected to be big selling, wanting to have her own songs and fighting for that but too much of the film was a let down and it really does pain me to say that. It could have been so much better!
The best part of the whole film was actually when the video of the real Aretha Franklin performing Natural Woman at the Kennedy Center Honors which is something I have watched a few times before, but seeing it on the big screen was truly fantastic.