Wowzers I did not expect this one to be in my top 5 from this year already! Described as a “musical-fantasy biopic” this film tells the life/career of famous eccentric singer Elton John.
Seeing the trailer for this, I’m not gonna lie I was very excited for this film. I’d seen Taron Egerton is a few movies from the past and thought he was charming, but I wasn’t sure how he’d be in this film. Holy shit…did he PERFORM! We’ll get more into that later on this post, but it had to be said outright! Many people are comparing this to “Bohemian Rhapsody” that came out last year for obvious reasons. Both are about famous musicians rise to stardom, while also claiming to give us entertainment and behind the scenes looks into their lives. Yes I’m aware that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was said to be about Queen and not just Freddie Mercury, but let’s be real here. They marketed it as a Freddie movie, he’s the only one on the theatrical poster and the focus point of the trailers.
That being said “Bohemian Rhapsody” was okay. I know this isn’t a review for that film, but it’s important to state a brief opinion on it for this review. So, it was enjoyable enough due to Rami Malek’s performance. However, it missed the point of what a biopic is supposed to be about. Raw emotion, ups as well as downs and not just a glamorized music video. Yes “Rocketman” has music throughout it, but it keeps the story going on in the most beautifully done way where nothing gets stale. It has its borderline “cheesy moments”, but we see a lot of heart shattering stuff in this film. Parts had me wanting to reach into the screen, shake Taron Egerton’s Elton John and say “You’re amazing just the way you are and you’re better than this!” We see drugs, alcohol, sex, family issues, suicidal thoughts, fake personas, and more. It’s a crazy emotional ride and with Taron giving such a stellar performance it feels real. Way more real than “Bohemian Rhapsody” ever felt and in this people literally levitate off the floor at one part! Yes there is a sense of surrealism in this including that scene, rocketing off of a stage, long sequences like the “Honky Cat” sequence and the sex addiction trip. But it worked.
I want to give the costume designers in this some love because they knocked it out of the park. Elton John is of course known for his flashy, flamboyant fashion choices, this was definitely given to us on a silver platter. When we see scenes of Elton on stage in his various outfits while “Pinball Wizard” plays, its both haunting and something really special. Speaking of haunting. There’s a few moments in this film that shocked me with their blatant emotional intensity. The pool scene with “Rocket Man” playing was spectacular, I got literal goosebumps from how powerful it was. The creation of “Your Song” was also very moving, the scene in the phone booth, ugh there are so many moments that stuck in my head!
This is a musical fantasy movie, so it moves the plot along with some of Elton’s most famous songs. If you hate musicals, you might still like this movie! But be prepared to watch emotion unfold with song on occasions. The fact that Taron Egerton sang this entire soundtrack is so impressive to me, most actors would lip-sync to actual songs from the artist, but not Taron. Speaking of Taron, let’s finally get into this. If you for some reason do not like this movie (no idea how!) you have to at least appreciate the genius that was Taron Egerton in this film. He reached into some undiscovered deep part of himself and gave the performance of his career at 29 years old. His emotion in this was so painfully in his facial features I thought at times that he really was a young Elton John. I felt his heartbreak, addictive tendencies, anger, frustration, happiness. It was all there so flawlessly! This may be the best biopic related performance I’ve ever seen, not joking. Even the chemistry between him and Richard Madden was very surprising to me, I know many people will chalk it up to just “being an actor” and yes of course they both are “acting”. However, true chemistry is hard to come by in the acting world and the subtle/not-so-subtle flirtatious tendencies between the two during various parts of the movie had me doing a double-take!
Yes, we all know Taron was incredible in this and if he doesn’t get an Oscar nomination at least we riot, but what about the rest of the cast? They were also clearly bringing their “A” game here. I wanted to strangle Richard Madden’s character on multiple occasions, ugh! Jamie Bell brought a warmth to his character that radiated off the screen. What a great casting choice on all ends. Honestly, I haven’t had a movie fly by so fast and me being saddened that it was over in a long time. Having seen it now on multiple occasions I can say it flies by quicker every time, you anticipate scenes to happen and once they do you want to replay and inspect them all over again.
Finally, because it’s such a topic of discussion right now I want to talk about the LGBTQ aspects of this film. First of all, it’s a story about Elton John…what the hell were you expecting? Yes there’s men kissing in it on multiple occasions, yes there’s a sex scene. It’s done between two men whom at the time loved each other and it’s honestly just a really intimate loving scene. If anyone has a problem with that, don’t see this movie and stay away from my vicinity! If I can see this in a packed theatre with 90% of it being older people and they don’t even bat an eye, you have no excuse. It’s currently been banned in certain areas of the world and or heavily edited, which honestly what’s the point in not being able to see the film in its entirety? That’s so disrespectful to Dexter Fletcher (the director) and everyone else whom worked on the film.
Please see this movie, it deserves all the love it can get! It does Elton John justice and showcases an incredible performance by Taron Egerton as well as the rest of the cast. Bring your tissues though as well as your dancing shoes! Definitely one of the year’s best.
Editor’s Note: By the way, I totally forgot to explain why I gave it 4.5/5 instead of a perfect rating. It’s not due to any of the said “cheesiness” I mentioned before, because in a film like this it’s needed. But during the sequence of “Bennie and the Jets” were shown Elton’s sex addiction through a beautiful hanging shot of him being in a club setting and crowd surfing on top of unknown hands. We also set shots of various mens faces looking down on him and Taron Egerton’s Elton himself looking up into the camera. Now all of this is great and we get the song continually looping over this shot eerily. However, there are 2 shots that blew my mind watching the movie second time around because I missed them completely the first time! We see Elton on a bed vulnerable and men are literally clawing at him/pulling him in all different directions as he’s on his back and we see him on his knees on the same bed being surrounded by men again. All of this is very symbolic and fantastic! It’s overshadowed though by the damn overlay of various emotional quotes from actors speaking to him over the course of the film, which felt a little pandering. We as an audience don’t need for you to spell it out for us why he’s drowning himself in emotionless relationships, we already know and it’s taking the focus off of those 2 shots I mentioned! Just show us the scenes as they play out and have the sequence end with him being on his side until he rolls over into the next scene.
Current Rating: 4.5/5 Bedazzled Glasses