First, in order to fully capture the essence of an artist, it takes color, feeling, fluidity, movement, emotion. Secondly, A biopic is a moment, a photo, an intimacy, a closer look at a life otherwise unknown to the audience. Third, it must be carried out with devotion, beauty, and a commitment to the person being portrayed.
Now, GENIUS: Cynthia Erivo did NOT portray ANY of the aforementioned traits of a fine artist embodying one if the greatest legends of all time. As other reviewers have stated, she is STOIC throughout the series; her expressions are MONOTONOUS, even when something exciting happens, both her facial and verbal tones are the same, limited in feeling and tone. As others, I waited for this to change. It didn’t. I think she was a poor choice for such an iconic portrayal. Acting, on this level, is NOT her forte. The flashbacks in the film are more noticeable as the series moves past episode 3; they are more distracting, I should say, and lead to confusion. It’s hard to follow a storyline when it’s imbalanced (which can carry its own beauty with the right script and actor). I think there were a lot of unknown stories fighting fo be revealed in this series. The writer tried to tie in Arethas current scenes with her past life. In some scenes, it worked. In others, it failed. Overall, Erivo hurt this movie more than helped. She could have saved the script. But failed.
RESPECT: the movie.
The complete opposite of Erivo, Hudson gives us emotion and FEELING throughout the film. We see and feel her painful moments, joyous occasions, and development as a woman. She nailed it there. The second half of the movie focuses more on her relationship with Ted White, perhaps because of its volatile nature. Yet, it’s tough knowing if this relationship is one Aretha, herself, would have highlighted as much in the story of her life. Unlike Genius, RESPECT didn’t try to pack all the knowledge/hearsay of Arethas life by overloading it. It eased into her life, although theres bound to be missing pieces in it. The writer chose what was important or what a/he felt would be important to the viewer and stayed there versus muddling the movie.
In BOTH, neither really echoed the voice of the Queen of Soul. In that sense, it felt like they wanted to toot their own horn. At the same time, that’s what we are here for, to have some resemblance of Aretha in their voices. On that note, they missed the mark. Erivo more so than Hudson, and miserably.
The highlight of Genius was the actress, Tonya (I can’t remember her last name), very natural actress and very funny.
All in all, black and brown people need to be seen on screen more. So my hat is off to both these women for playing the part.