Every film lover can agree that loving a film you didn’t expect to is probably one of the best feelings, when your heart hurts afterwards, but in the best way.
Last month I went to see Rocketman for the first time and since then have gone back another five, including travelling to go to a singalong screening. I may or may not have been a bit extra and worn some Elton John themed glasses, but I won’t say any more.
The choice to tell Elton’s story through a musical fantasy was the best decision they could have made. It manages to capture the drama and heartbreak of Elton John’s life and career while also capturing those moments of happiness and fun. It is just the right balance.
It was also a risk. If you’ve watched the movie, or maybe just know a bit about Elton John’s story, then you’ll know there are some very dark and upsetting moments in his life that are portrayed on screen. So, having it be a musical could takeaway the seriousness of certain situations, but it doesn’t; it actually makes it even more heart–breaking. Suddenly every song has a whole new meaning.
The movie starts off with a dramatic scene where Elton (Taron Egerton) storms into a group therapy session in his stage gear, introducing himself to everyone. Straight away the musical and fantasy themes collide when Elton imagines his childhood self while they sing and go back to where everything began – when he was a kid, before Elton John even existed. We watch him grow up through the years and learn about his problematic family and toxic home, within the first half an hour your heart is already hurting for him.
Taron Egerton is unbelievable in this movie. He manages to morph into Elton John so amazingly that you forget it isn’t actually him you are watching. Teenage Elton or ‘Reggie Dwight’, as we call him at this point in the film, is looking for his big break anywhere he can find it. After playing in his local pub, touring with some soul singers in a back-up band with his friends and a meeting at a record label, Elton John is born. As is his special friendship with Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell).
Elton and Bernie are the heart of the film. It’s nice to think their relationship is as special in real life, and by the sounds of things it was and still is today. A particularly emotionally affecting scene is when Elton is outed and when he asks himif it matters, Bernie replies with “No, not to me.” Eventually, after Elton and Bernie’s career kicks off, that’s when things start to get bad. For Elton, anyway.
Elton suffers through an abusive relationship, a homophobic and emotionally abusive mother that tells him he’ll “never be loved properly” because of his sexuality, and an emotionally abusive dad that doesn’t care for him or treat him like his other sons. Also drugs, alcohol, mental illness etc. Watching mental health issues portrayed on screen so realistically is something that is so important and is done here really well.
I praise Elton for being so honest and choosing not to shy away from the struggles he faced and how they affected not just him, but everyone around him that suffered due to his actions.
Rocketman teaches you that there are always two sides to every story and not everything is at it seems.
It makes you fall in love with Elton John and his story, and love and appreciate his music on another level.
It is everything a biopic should be.