With the success and critical reception of Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born, musical movies are back and on the rise, especially if they’re also serves as an autobiography of the artist’s life. Such is the case here with Rocketman detailing the life of Elton John.
Beginning in medias res with Elton John (Taron Egerton) storming into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in full costume to seek help, as he details his life story.
Born Reggie Dwight, he grew up with his distant mother, aloof father and a loving grandmother. When Reggie shows talent playing the piano, his mother gets him a tutor, who recommends a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. Breaking out with a band of friends playing at the local pub when Reggie is approached by a talent scout. After playing backup for touring singers, Reggie decides to break out on his own, taking on the stage name Elton John.
Elton meets songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) and together the two product enough songs for an album and gets a slot for the Troubadour in L.A. There Elton’s performance attracts the attention of record manager John Reid (Richard Madden), with whom he enters into a secret relationship. As Elton’s fame and fortune rises to new heights, he becomes absorbed by the rock star lifestyle of sex and drugs, not helped by John’s financial abuse, and his mother’s cold rebuttal when he comes out to her. After a depressed suicide attempt, Bernie returns back to England which only drives Elton further into a downward spiral, ultimately culminates with Elton walking out of one of his concerts and heading straight to rehab.
As Elton gets himself better, Bernie returns and they reconcile their friendship and gives Elton some songs to work on for his big comeback I’m Still Standing.
Rocketman is a warts and all biopic of one of the biggest names in music, showing the highs and lows of Elton’s life, spliced with his greatest hits at key moments of his life. Egerton’s performance is true to form, capturing the turmoil hiding beneath the flashy costumes, and the costume designer nails recreating Elton’s eccentric wardrobe. Recommended for music lovers everywhere.
By Daniel Murphy