THERE’S very little to surprise audiences in Liesl Tommy’s new Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect.

Even those with only the most fleeting knowledge of the star’s story will recognise the film’s very normative ebbs and flows. If you’ve seen The Jersey Boys or Bohemian Rhapsody, you’ve seen Respect. If you liked them, chances are you’ll like this one too.

Still haunted by the memory of her snotty performance in 2019’s mega flop Cats, Jennifer Hudson brings typical gumption to the leading role but is a late comer in a film that opens some 14 years prior to the release of the hits that made her name.

In 1952, 10 year old Re is played by Skye Dakota Turner. She lives in Detroit with sisters Erma and Carolyn and their Baptist pastor father C. L. Franklin (Forest Whitaker).

The recent and shocking death of her mother has traumatised Aretha into total silence. As far as anyone can tell, she’ll never speak again. Not so. Forced by her father to sing at his church some weeks later, young Aretha finds her voice again. Once she has, there’s no stopping her.

Flash forward a decade and Franklin, now a single mother of two, is shipped off to New York to become a very respectable - and largely unremarkable - jazz singer for Columbia Records. It’s what her father wants for her.

It is only when she embarks on a relationship with the roguish Ted White (Marlon Wayans) that Aretha leaps into the throng of a new sound and finds her soul. The rest, as they say, is history.

Respect embraces this history with an excess of reverence. A script by Tracey Scott Wilson ramps up the glitz but never quite goes far enough when exploring Franklin’s vulnerability and sharper edges.

Aretha was just 12 years old when she first gave birth and yet here that is an episode glimpsed only in flashback, with no mention of the man who raped her or the scars he left behind.

The star’s battles with alcohol are handled at arms length, with her mental health struggles little more than a graze.

To this end, Respect may be deemed too respectful, too tasteful, to truly hit home. Fans will surely lap up the film’s tributary recreations of Franklin’s greatest hits but few will leave with any deeper understanding of the complexity of her life.