Hello and welcome!
Last night I went to see Rocketman, the motion picture biopic of the life of Elton John.
And it was spectacular.
Rockstar biopics often hit the same chords and share the same themes of loneliness, addiction and the negative side affects of fame, and Rocketman is no exception to this. In fact, the opening scene of Rocketman see’s Elton John stating “i know how this bit goes” before confessing to a list of sins. However, Dexter Fletcher’s fresh and creative take on this genre is really exciting to watch on screen. For starters, I did not expect this film to essentially be a musical going into it, but I'm really glad that they decided to take that route. For me, it wasn’t at all cheesy and actually transitioned very smoothly between musical numbers, using choreography and time-lapse montages.
The only slight problem with this, is that I struggled at times to know where the scenes were set chronologically. On the other hand, the director clearly stated that in the making of this film, he didn’t want “to be a slave to the chronology of when songs were written or what they got written about […] and the more I exploited that opportunity, the more fantasy elements came into it, […] they’re all flights of memory and feelings rather than fact.” I think this was absolutely the right creative choice for this biopic, not only because it screamed Elton John, but also because it offered an almost surrealist, magical edge compared to others of its genre.
The entire movie is a beautiful, colourful treat for all the senses. It’s funny, inspiring and heartbreaking all at once and I unexpectedly developed a new found respect for Elton John as an individual.
The movie opens with Elton, played by the wonderfully talented Taron Egerton, bursting into a rehab circle, dressed in full, eccentric Elton stage gear. This is used almost like a framing device for the rest of the movie, as Elton sits down and begins an honest confession in telling the true story of his life, beginning with his not so ideal childhood.
The child actors are really talented and endearing as young Reginald Dwight, the musical prodigy. Kit Connor has a shining star moment performing the first half of ‘Saturday Night’, and one of my overall favourite scenes, was one in which young Reggie (Matthew Illesley) is in bed at night, conducting an imaginary orchestra with his flashlight. This childlike excitement and hope made it a really pure and personal moment. From here, the audience is taken on the journey of Elton’s life as he meets his lifelong friend Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) , comes to terms with his sexuality, ascends into the musical legend we know him as today, and the whole time desperately yearning for real love.
What surprised me most about this movie is how much of it felt like a tragedy. The scenes between Elton and his father (Steven Mackintosh) were acted so well that they completely broke my heart, and I really felt a change in the cinema’s atmosphere when Elton’s mother, played by the edgy Bryce Dallas Howard, tells him “I hope you know you’re choosing a life of being alone forever ; you’ll never be loved properly.”
From his deflated suicide attempts to his practice of a fake smile in his dressing room mirror, the audience really get to see the truth behind those big colourful glasses. The life of a young man that was mostly dominated by his demobilising depression and self hatred. Something I found particularly effective was the way Elton gradually lost parts of his grand, orange costume, which we initially see him in, until finally he is just a man in a grey robe trying to reconnect with himself. This serves as a conclusion for the way this film gradually strips away the colourful stage persona to reveal the man that hides behind it. As he quotes in rehab “for as long as I can remember I’ve hated myself”.
But what I find most impressive and wonderful about Rocketman is that the recovery is romanticised, not the deterioration. Elton picks himself up and in a beautiful third act, he makes peace with characters from his life, including his mother, father, grandmother and Robb Stark (who I just COULD NOT take seriously after watching BBC’s Bodyguard series). For me though, the peak of the movie was the physical embrace between young reggie and older Elton, which was a very emotional and visually clever way of concluding a character arc with self acceptance and self love…Totally didn’t cry at that bit.
Overall, I think Rocketman is an outstanding musical tribute to the life of Elton John. All the actors, main or cameo, were great and Taron Egerton deserves a bloody Oscar for the amount of talent he demonstrates here. The direction and the script were wonderfully moving and the visuals and sound mixing made for a transcendent, magical experience. I couldn’t really pick out any major flaws with this film and I am already looking forward to seeing it again.
Please go and watch this movie in the cinema because I think that will enhance your experience, unless like me, you are seated next to a couple who get their phones out every five minutes ( I hate you whoever you are xoxo)
Okay that’s all guys, thanks for reading!