“Fame attracts lunatics.” -Elton John
It’s a tale as familiar as any these days so the question becomes how to tell it in way that feels fresh and interesting. Rocketman is a great example of making the familiar, the lived-in, the mutually shared story, your own. From the beginning Elton, or in the early days, Reginald, was a boy who danced to a different tune than those around him. His natural talents as a musician and all around performer were seen in his youth as a nuisance at best and worst a detriment to the possibility of what he was destined to become. Luckily Elton is Elton and his determination gave way to the icon we all know today. During his rise he was thrown into a world where everything is at his beckoning call and with this comes the pitfalls of fame, usually in the form of excess. It became about finding himself again and hopefully keeping his musical soul intact despite walking away from the more hardcore aspects of a rockstar life. Again, we’ve heard this story before but Rocketman has taken the personality of its star and turned it into a style all his own to tell the story only he is fit to tell, all it’s fantastical impossibilities in tow.
While many biopics become concerned with a more accurate, realistic approach to the life of their chosen person or people, Rocketman takes the approach of capturing Elton John’s essence as a person and performer, these two sides of him often clashing in a spectacle of glitter, vodka, and cocaine. This particular biopic takes the viewpoint of watching a car crash; being absolutely fascinated as metal twists and snaps and melts in a single glorious moment of chaotic madness and this movie accepts the fact that for whatever reason people have a preoccupation with watching such disarray. Elton John’s life was at one time a beautiful car crash stretching over decades as people entered his life, ruined what they could and disappeared just the same, leaving Elton wondering what he did wrong.The tragedy here is him feeling for so long this misplaced desire to placate the very people causing his specific loss of control eventually smashing into every cliché of a rockstar there is, much like a vehicle crashing and shattering into a indiscernible pile of metal and glass.
What I didn’t expect, and pleasantly so, is the musical approach to the storytelling, used to tell his story as fantastically and as boisterously as possible. This is truly where the movie shines, in these fantasy moments because it all feels as if this is what Elton would make his life turn out as if he could literally act as director of his own life, dictating every twist and turn along the way. To poke fun at his shortcomings, to face the indignation of two parental figures completely disinterested with his life, to face the possibility of staying alone in love forever, to accept his status as a legend and the weight of such a messy life. To finally accept himself and to live as himself, at long last. Rocketman addresses his life in a way that you would like to think Elton would want his life to actually be like, dark and depressing included all the same as the moments of triumph, all set to the tunes created by him and his lifelong friend and confidant, Bernie Taupin. This is Elton John directed by Elton John, I would like to imagine.
What can often make or break a period piece is the believability of what’s happening behind or on the actors, from the background settings to the era accurate clothing, it becomes a character all its own. And with Rocketman, with the telling of Elton John’s story, the costumes must be nothing short of brilliant and costume designer Julian Day is just that, brilliant. This is Oscar worthy work and I’m sure the Academy is already taking notice. I sure hope so anyway.
I experienced the moment when I knew it was going to be a great film within the first five minutes for one simple reason, Taron Egerton. As he begins his uncertain path down the road of recovery, you can see his confidence despite the undertaking of such a monumental and iconic figure. He immediately displays the sass and conviction of Elton, showing no fear and yet never shying away from being completely and absolutely vulnerable as he reaches out for help, for a moment of quiet from the madness. Taron embodies Elton, becoming him rather than mimicking him in the best performance of his career so far. He is so entrancing and believable as both Reginald, the unassuming quiet boy from Pinner, United Kingdom, to the larger-than-life Elton John whose very presence precedes him wherever he goes.
He sings, he cries, he falls in moments of pure defeat and loneliness and does so with such heartfelt conviction it’s impossible to turn away when Egerton/Elton is on screen. I can’t imagine Elton John being anything but absolutely enthralled over his depiction in the movie by such a young, phenomenal talent like Taron Egerton. Performance wise, in every aspect, Taron Egerton is the movie, he is the Rocketman.
It’s loud and messy and completely implausible and is all the more mesmerizing as a result. This is what I wanted the very overrated Bohemian Rhapsody movie to be. I wanted a kind of fearlessness and acceptance of all the faults and successes alike. If you gave Bohemian the time and effort, please give Rocketman the same respect, it’s far more deserving simply because it’s the better film. While it might be a bit more glossy than some who might want a more gritty approach would seek out, Rocketman never shies away from who he was in every highlight moment, even when those moments were devastating and hateful. It was unexpected and utterly enrapturing from first note to last. Rocketman flies with an absolute beauty and a triumphant kind of entertainment.
Rated R For: language throughout, some drug use and sexual content
Runtime: 121 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed By: Dexter Fletcher
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4.5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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