A ‘True’ Biopic Musical Fantasy
Ladies and Gents, We Have A Winner!
Last night I was fortunate enough to catch a sneak peek showing of Rocketman, the Elton John biopic covering his life from six-years old until he left rehab in the early ‘90’s. This Paramount film starring Teron Egerton as Elton John and directed by Dexter Fletcher, it’s slated to open nationwide tomorrow, May 31st. By the 30-minute mark I was telling myself that this movie could easily snag a lion’s share of Golden Globes, Oscars and Grammys unless a more outstanding film comes along before the nominations are due. Last year’s Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), which was partially directed by Dexter Fletcher (he also directed Sunshine on Leith, 2013 and Eddie the Eagle, 2016), after Bryan Singer was fired, won 2 Golden Globes (Best Picture & Best Actor), 4 Oscars (Best Actor, 1 for editing & 2 for sound), and 9 Grammys earlier this year, why not a Fletcher directed biopic musical fantasy in 2020?
There’s Only One Elton John, but…
Like many members of the Boomer generation, proven by the age range of the audience last night, I am a loyal fan of Elton John. We grew up with his music and witnessed his meteoric rise to fame. We could relate to Bernie Taupin’s lyrics, Elton’s scores & delivery. We loved it all, still do, and this movie has only made us love Elton more. No one can ever replace Elton on-stage, but here you can watch and see that Egerton does a hell of a job of portraying him on and off stage, plus his singing can hang with Elton’s too.
Success Comes With a Price…
The film takes us on a pretty fucked up roller coaster ride to stardom beginning with Elton’s unceremoniously desperate, but hilarious arrival to a group therapy session in full Phoenix/Satan costume, huge feathered wings and horns curling from his head, which is where he tells us his life story from being a musical child prodigy to…
The damage done to him by his parents and manager Reid, his record setting meteoric from his U.S. debut at the now defunct Troubadour Club in L.A. through his years of excessive alcohol & drug use, wild orgies, his getting married (to a woman!), an E.R. visit and his last stint in rehab, much of it is told through fantasy musical numbers of his greatest hits; all over the top, as it should be. The most gripping musical scene was done underwater and god, was it spellbinding.
On top of thoroughly entertaining you, this film will touch many whose lives have suffered and endured the same kind of journey, be they gay, straight, or otherwise. The flick also gives us background on some of Taupin’s lyrics.
A Stellar Supporting Cast:
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) as Elton’s mom Sheila Eileen Farebrother and Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones’ mom) as his maternal grandmother Ivy Sewell, bring the worst and best of mothering to the screen. Where Howard’s character is beyond despicable towards Elton trough his youth and which is how she treated him even after her death at age 92 in Dec. 2017, Jones’ character does her best to buoy the boy during the difficult journey that was his childhood and teens.
Steven Mackintosh (TV’s Wanderlust and Stan Lee’s Lucky Man) as Elton’s dad Stanley, does a kick ass job of making us hate him. All three gave impressive performances.
A shout out to the young men who respectively played Elton as a child and teen, Matthew Illesley and Kit Conner. Both showed an astounding emotional range and voices that could sing rings around all of us. Powerful performances!
As wonderful as those performances were, two others were outstanding – those of Jamie Bell (The Fantastic Four and Skin) as Elton’s longtime friend and lyricist Bernie Taupin and Richard Madden (Rob Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones & BBC’s The Bodyguard) as John Reid, his lover turned selfishly greedy personal manager.
Well… That’s, That’s All Folks…
I have tried my best to keep from doling out spoilers and if you haven’t figured it out by now, I urge you to go see this movie, you won’t regret it even if you pay full price. You will be entertained, moved to tears, learn so much about the sacrifices some pay just to stay alive, let alone achieve universal success, and you will be elated. Not bad for the price of a ticket, not bad.
In case you need more convincing, watch a few of the trailers…
I’m outta here! ~ Zadie G