This fast-paced ode to Elton John’s life and career till the 80s (roughly) is a rollercoaster of a good time.
First off, this movie had laughs, electric musical numbers, the songs we know and love and some new/ lesser know ones.
This movie focuses somewhat on Elton John’s drug life. The over the top parties, coping with newfound fame and dealing with the absence of love, which left a hole Sir Elton Hercules needed to fill, and alas, found his solace in drugs.
Fittingly, this movie is just as crazy. From the fast pace splicing and experimental camera work on musical numbers to the beautiful recreations of Sir Elton’s stage wear, this movie felt like it was on drugs. Fantasy moments arose, like when he took the stage at the Troubadour to the eyes of his first, unsuspecting, American audience and floats in the air with the audience for a slowed-down, surreal amount of time. These kind of scenes work in Rocketman because they ring true emotionally and feel like we are getting a glimpse of how it feels like from the performer’s perspective, which is one thing Rocketman in good at portraying. Slowed down we could feel the magic of being onstage, the thrill of performing to people who love your music, dancing along. The over-the-top-ness and the fast and loose take on reality don’t matter much because we care about the character and all his quirks. The way he comes out to his mother, just before a show, the suicide attempt days before his famous Dodgers stadium concert, blowing up at his co-writer, Bernie Taupin, and immediately apologizing. We see the veneer behind the performer and can connect to those moments. To him as a child replaying exactly what his piano teacher was performing, to being too embarrassed to play in front of “America’s greatest” rock & rollers (aka Beach Boys) Rocketman paints the man as a humble, endearing – albeit cheeky -personality.
And my god the costumes! If the costume department doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for this film I will be surprised. Some famous looks were recreated while others invented for Rocketman. As for the songs, the story behind “Your Song” and “Tiny Dancer” is close to what actually happened. Legend has it they Elton and Bernie wrote “Your Song” in a few hours one morning, over breakfast. “I Want Love” however, takes on a different context – but it makes sense in the story!
People don’t pay to see Reg Dwight! They pay to see ELTON JOHN!Elton, before going onstage
Though I paid to see the Elton John’s story, I was just as delighted to see the Reg Dwight story. By the end of Rocketman, you’ll fall in love with both.
“You gotta kill the person you were born to be in order to become the person you want to be.” –Rocketman (uttered by Murphy)
Also, what a villain! Wow! I’ll be surprised if anyone will ever have anything nice to say about John’s manager (John Reid) after watching this movie. A cruel character and if an ounce of it is true, seems like Elton got his revenge on him by showing him as such despicable person in this film.
There were some emotional moments, in fact I teared up 3 times. This film doesn’t shy away from his issues coming to terms with his own sexuality. Which makes this movie so easy to feel for. Seeing how he is rejected by his father and his mother to some degree- though she at least stays in his life and makes an effort to follow his career- make for poignant scenes. His grandmother seems to have been the only supportive presence in his life and is always a delight to see in the movie.
Other emotional moments are when fantasy meets reality. When Reg the kid imagines conducting an orchestra, when Elton the adult sees his kid self at the bottom of the pool in a spacesuit, indicating he needs to jet back to the surface where he can breath. These touches of magic are made possible because of believable relationships and honest dialogue.
The final emotional moment was the card at the end. I read in an article than when Elton John was at the height of his bingeing days, he did cocaine once every 4 minutes. Which means if he sat in his own film with us, he would’ve done 30 lines of coke in that timeframe. To go from that to 28 years sober is TRULY an inspiration.
Watch it for: Taron Egerton’ s show stopping performance, the ever-so-sweet grandmother character, the music.
This film is as glam, camp and iconic as the man himself. I felt truly connected to it and felt re-invigorated in the artist in addition to the man. – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ½