Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Glass Of Wine At The Movies - Rocketman


Rating: 14 A (Canada)/ R (USA)

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Language: English

Length:  121 minutes

Cast: Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Jamie Bell,

Viewing Method: Advance Screening

Release Date: May 31, 2019

Synopsis: An epic musical fantasy about the uncensored human story of Sir Elton John’s breakthrough years.


I went into Rocketman not knowing much about Elton John's life. I was vaguely familiar with some of his music in the way that listening to the radio would make you, but never would have considered myself a fan. I left the movie theater with a greater appreciation for not only Taron Egerton as a actor but Elton John as a performer. It is a story of the rise and fall (and triumphant return) of a rock star. It is the story of a young boy who wanted to be loved and the man who finally had to learn that he deserved to be. 

Dexter Fletcher stepped in to finish directing Bohemian Rhapsody when Bryan Singer was fired from the project during production. It is only natural that comparisons are going to be made between the two films. I, personally, think that Rocketman is more truthful and respectful to its subject. There is also a fantasy, dream like element to the way this is shot that firmly sets this into its own category. 

Taron Egerton gives what I consider a career changing performance. It is certainly one that I expect will get him his first Oscar nomination. It showcases a wider range that people may be used to seeing from the actor The loneliness and longing that defined the early part of Elton John's life radiates from Taron in a visceral way. He captures the excruciating lows and over the top highs with equal precision. He portrays the charm, the grandiose swagger just as effortlessly as he portrays the more introspective parts of Elton's personality. You are never quite sure how much of 'Elton John' is a defensive mechanism for Reginald Dwight and that comes through Egerton's performance with crystal clarify. He also proves himself to be quite the singer with him pulling off many of Elton's greatest hits.

The movie doesn't hold back in showing both the thrilling highs and bottle induced lows of John's stardom. It embraces the addiction, rage filled episodes, and suicide attempt as part of the story of Elton's life. Egerton conveys the switch from depressed, self loathing man to glittery showman with nothing more than a look passing over his face. There is a scene in which a haggard John is about to go on stage. We know he is at a low point and yet he has to be 'on' and put on a show. Egerton nails that split second switch as he walks on stage to where the public can see him. The movie if filled with these quieter, more subtle moments that make up the performance Egerton is giving. 

The side characters are equally well cast even if they are, at times, not given much to work with. This is John's story and that fact is evident in the broad paint strokes everyone else gets.. Richard Madden tears into his role of John Reid, Elton's manager (and lover) with deliciously sleazy charm. He is an asshole but you understand why Elton would have fallen  for him (and stayed with him way longer than he should have). Jamie Bell stand out as Bernie Taupin, Elton's supportive writing partner and long time friend. Dallas Bryce Howard plays his distant and cold mother with icy realism. 

This really is a love letter to Elton's music. The movies ensures to include plenty of musical moments and does so in a whimsical, fantastical way that matches the feelings you associate with Elton John. They work them into the narrative, with the musical numbers pushing forward the plot. It is these numbers that push against the standard biopic feel the rest of the movie has and offers a peek at a much more flamboyant spectacle that I expect was underneath. It also means that the songs are not in order. The story itself is chronological, but the music is taken and slotted where it fits the narrative best. It makes this feel more like a true musical which is entirely fitting for the story of a man who has written Broadway songs.

Rocketman is your standard biopic that mixes in the showmanship that its subject is know for. It is meant for those who love his music. If you're someone who turns the station if an Elton John song comes on the radio I anticipate that sitting through 2+ hours of them isn't going to be something you want to do. However, I do think those who are not hardcore fans will enjoy the stellar lead performance, and the colour spectacle this movie offers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments. Thank you for stopping by my blog and thank you even more for leaving me a comment.

I have decided to make this an awards free blog. I appreciate the gesture, and love that you thought of my blog, however I simply can't pass them along as required.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...