dir: dexter fletcher. Starring: Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jamie Bell, Gemma Jones. 15 certificates, 121 minutes
Dexter Fletcher’s musical biopic about Elton John, world premiered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival, is a moving and emotional affair with an operatic scope. This is the story of one of pop culture’s most extraordinary metamorphoses: Reg Dwight, the “fat kid from nowhere,” leaves his pinner roots behind and blossoms as the flamboyant singer in glitter and platform heels, but his success takes a while. huge toll.
You won’t learn here why elton sold out luther blissett when he was president of watford fc, but the film has many other revelations and adventures in the darkest places of its subject matter. It was co-produced by Elton John’s company Rocket Pictures, but it doesn’t make sense that I’m trying to retouch his past.
In recent years, Taron Egerton has played roles as varied as hapless ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards and Robin Hood. He stands out here as “the extroverted introvert,” as Elton is characterized: the global superstar who, at the height of her fame, is insecure and miserable.
“You have to kill the person you were born to become the person you want to be,” reg is told early on. it’s advice he takes so seriously that he risks losing his own identity entirely.
The film highlights the friendship between Reg and songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), whose role in Elton’s story is not always fully acknowledged. they are portrayed as being as close as brothers. awaken the creativity of others. Bernie writes the words. elton puts them to music.
Almost as important is the very complicated relationship with his beloved mother (Bryce Dallas Howard). Then there’s her heady but ultimately destructive affair with his manager, John Reid (Richard Madden).
On stage, Elton is a peerless showman. Off it, he is still the same little boy lost encountered in the first section of the film.
rocketman begins very strikingly with a character in a garish orange jumpsuit and horns, walking menacingly towards the camera. he’s not the devil but elton on his way to an aa meeting. “My name is elton hercules john and I am an alcoholic,” he confesses. alcohol is just the beginning. “What were you like as a child?” the counselor asks, a question that triggers the film’s flashbacks.
The low-key naturalism of the pinner scenes contrasts with what follows. Elton is a shy boy growing up in a suburban boarding house with a distant, jazz-loving father, Stanley (Steven Mackintosh), who continually pushes him away and criticizes him, and an unhappy mother. His doting grandmother Ivy (the beatific Gemma Jones) recognizes his precocious musical abilities and helps him win his scholarship to the Royal College of Music. he then discovers elvis, meets bernie and realizes he has a natural gift for acting.
fletcher (who also directed bohemian rhapsody) uses lavish musical sequences to weave his way through episodes from elton john’s life. one of the most memorable is elton’s first performance at the troubadour in los angeles, a set so full of emotion and energy that the audience takes off, and elton himself seems to levitate above his piano.
Success comes very quickly, but happiness doesn’t. the film deals candidly and without lewdness with its subject’s sex life and the misery it sometimes caused him. his attraction to john reid becomes very obvious. when elton calls his mother from a phone booth outside albert hall to tell her that he is gay, she inevitably replies that she has known for years.
sometimes, rocketman runs the risk of becoming a chronicle of grief. Much of the film focuses on the years when Elton was abusing alcohol and drugs. she was miserable in his own life and took out his unhappiness on those closest to him. this does not make him very good company. his behavior is bratty and self-indulgent. it can get boring to hear him say one more time how much he hates himself. however, fletcher shoots even the darkest scenes in a very whimsical way and manages to soften things up with a bit of wry humor.
Inevitably, “I’m still standing” is the anthem that plays at the end, signaling its subject’s resilience and ability to use his musical genius to exorcise his demons.