I will start off by telling you, the reader and movie goer, that this is not a documentary or even a bio pic ala last year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. “Rocketman” is different than anything you have seen, part fantasy, reality and musical, it is also about addiction.
A roller coaster of emotions, this cinematic feature breaks new ground with the storytelling of a real life celebrity the audience knows from the music world as well as someone who has been in the public eye for most of his adult life. It is not a conventional movie, why would it and should it be? It is about the life of Elton John that has been anything but conventional.
This is about the early days of Elton’s career, the excitement of being discovered, the crazy days of drugs, booze, sex, and food extremes. Elton’s childhood, although painful to watch, gives you clear insight as to why he turned to the excesses of stardom. The opening scene of the movie shows Elton in a rehab group dealing with the past, taking the audience on a musical journey through his life. His music is not shown in the chronological order of his musical catalog. Many of the songs fit the emotional heartbeat of the scene. His 2001 hit, “I Want Love”, used in an early family scene, is a perfect fit for the dynamics of the scene and is from a time period in Elton’s real life that has nothing to do with the era of the movie.
British actor Taron Egerton does a great job at portraying Elton, not only with his acting skills but also singing for the soundtrack of the movie. Be warned, you will not hear Elton singing, though lip-syncing was considered initially for the movie, Elton himself knew that Taron could sing and they decided to let him take on both the singing and acting. A big risk for Egerton, he pulls it off well. He should join Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) in the best actor Oscar category next year! One of the producers of the film is Elton’s husband, David Furnish.
Besides Elton, the other hero of this movie is his longtime collaborator and partner, Bernie Taupin. Their magical way of writing some of the greatest songs of this generation is truly mysterious. Taupin writing the lyrics and Elton setting them to music, is simply an unexplainable feat. Taupin is the one constant who accepts Elton as a gay man in a society that had yet even coined the term “gay”. Taupin loves Elton unconditionally, regardless of the differences in their lifestyles. Bernie is played with heart & soul by actor Jamie Bell. Taupin and John have a unique bond that has endured over 50 years.
Elton’s inner struggle with self-esteem and self-love are the stuff that makes addiction such an ugly demon for so many. Regardless of all his fame and fortune, Elton is in misery. This movie is not all fun and musical numbers, it is also about Elton’s real life struggle to find himself. The film brings redemption, recovery and Elton finding himself by finally asking for help. Just as leaving Reginald Dwight behind when he became Elton John, recovery is the beginning for a new Elton John who will go on to live a new life! This is a not-to-miss movie for any Elton or music fan!
Over 28 years sober, Elton has helped many people both famous and not famous to find recovery. His foundation has raised over $450 million to help AIDS charities that save lives. His official autobiography “Me” is coming out on October 15th. He is touring the world with his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour which comes to Tampa on November 4th, 2019 at the Amalie Arena.
Rocketman logo photo from Rocketman official Facebook. All others from Vicky Sullivan / The Sarasota Post