A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John‘s breakthrough years.
I would happily of swerved this biopic had my friend Helen not been so excited about it. Her anticipation rubbed off on me, what can I say? I’m delighted that she changed my mind.
Kingsman hottie Egerton plays Elton in this tribute to one of our greatest treasures, king of the banger, Mr John. Which is no mean feat when your subject matter is still alive and will be watching your portrayal for themselves. Luckily, his performance is spot on (but more on that in a bit) – and his voice, well it’s really something. Who knew?
We begin where most good stories do, at the start. Elton, born Reginald ‘Reggie’ Dwight to a cold mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) and disengaged father (Steven Mackintosh), is an ordinary boy. Until he sits down one day at the family piano and duplicates a piece of music note for note. Grandma Ivy (Gemma Jones) encourages his parents to get him piano lessons and the rest is history. Except of course there’s way more to it than that.
Our boy attends the Royal Academy of music and discovers Elvis, which whets his appetites for all things rock n’s roll. Worst Dad of all time Stanley meanwhile finally leaves Reg and his mum – and starts a new more palatable family.
Reggie’s life changes forever when he supports a band on tour and gets the inspiration he needs to pursue a solo career. He approaches Dick James (Stephen Graham) and gains representation with James’ assistant, Ray (Charlie Rowe). Despite James’ initial negativity towards Reggie (now Elton John), Ray takes a chance on the young upstart and inadvertently sets him on the path towards his greatest ally, amateur songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell).
When Bernie and Elton meet magic happens – and they’re soon on their way to superstardom. Bernie supports Elton in every aspect of his life – and Elton boasts that they have never had a cross word.
Elton eventually meets and falls in love with music producer John Reid (Madden), who makes an even bigger star of him and encourages him to live a little larger. Which he does very well indeed, leading him to massive issues with drug, booze and shopping addiction.
Throw into the mix a crumbling personal life – John turns out to be a total scumbag – a still disinterested father (despite all the success) – and cruel words from his mother when he finally comes out to her – and Elton is on the road to self-destruction.
Will he ever be loved properly? Will he forgive the emotional crimes of his parents and save himself before its too late?
Rocketman is stunning with top notch costuming, as you’d expect. Every aspect of the movie looks good and I loved the performances. I cried a lot – particularly when Egerton sang Your Song and Tiny Dancer – his voice is powerful as hell.
While I loved his performance I have to be honest and say, I never once saw him as Elton. He’s just too damn attractive. That’s not to say I wasn’t engaged – I really enjoyed it. It just feels like a tribute performance to the man himself, rather than an uncanny reimagining (as with Rami Malek and Bohemian Rhapsody).
As for the surreal elements of the storytelling, I don’t think it could suit the main character more. It’s magical. And no, I haven’t been able to stop humming Rocketman since I left the theater last week.