"Rocketman" Review

"Rocketman" might just be the greatest biopic yet. More or less everyone in the world has heard of Elton John, whether for his original songs, the covers other artists have done of them, or the revitalised popularity of "Your Song" after Moulin Rouge took the world by storm. What people may not know is the origin story of Elton John, the living legend of music.

"Rocketman benefits tremendously from the fact that Elton John is still alive. Often times, these biopics are commissioned after the subject is no longer alive to give their input on the project. This is a crucial component to developing the unique style of this particular biopic. Elton John's songs have been incorporated in the more surreal style that music is used in actual musicals. Typically when the music of an artist is used in their biopic, it's presented under real circumstances. They will sing that song when they're writing, recording, or performing it because it's part of their life story being told.

Taking this creative liberty with how the songs are used to shape the narrative is a fresh take on the music biopic. There are some fantastic special effects which are another surprising addition considering the film's genre and concept, cool transitions formed through the use of choreography, and dreamy musically driven sequences.

The story takes you through Elton John's life. His childhood introduces his difficult relationships with his parents, which are a recurring source of deep character insight. This vulnerability he shows and the deep desire he has to be loved are just as central to his identity as his passion for music. Another refreshing aspect of the film is that it doesn't milk his sexual orientation for drama, nor does it erase this facet of his identity. Hollywood films frequently display a propensity for going too far in one direction or the other when telling stories of gay characters.

Elton's journey from a shy, closeted musician to the living legend we know him as today is made all the more compelling by the performances of the excellent group of lead actors. For those unfamiliar with the logistics of Elton John's career, he has a long friendship and collaboration with Bernie Taupin. Bernie is a lyricist, and Elton creates the music afterwards. There's such a beautifully soft, gentle quality to their relationship. One of the things that the audience learns about them is that they've never had a fight in all the years that they've been friends and it's a great point to include because it subverts the narrative that the media likes to perpetuate about Elton. Painting him out to be some hot-tempered source of drama makes for far better clickbait than reporting on the loving friendship he has with one of his oldest friends. These two have made some of the greatest hits of the century together and there's never been a falling out between them. Taron Egerton beautifully portrays the range of emotions of Elton's journey and Jamie Bell bring a grounded contrast as Bernie, particularly in the later stages of the story when Elton has begun to show more of the temper he's gained a reputation for.

Richard Madden portrays John Reid, a former manager and romantic partner of Elton John. Their relationship burns hot and goes down in flames. John Reid is a truly dubious figure and toxic presence in Elton's life and it's really cool to see Richard Madden expand into a role like this. He's previously admitted to having played many Romeo types in his career, essentially good men who had bad things happen to them. With this performance, he's able to show an entirely new side of his abilities as an actor and explore a darker side of the human condition, that of what a person can inflict on someone so close to them.

A film about Elton John's life and career would not be complete without some truly extravagant costumes. There are so many iconic fashion moments that Elton served as a performer over his decades of success and the wardrobe team responsible for bringing these looks to life deserve tremendous praise.

"Rocketman" is both a fun musical and a compelling story about overcoming inner emons. Not only are viewers treated to a greater insight into Elton John's personal journey and how he became the icon he's known as today, watching the film is a truly cathartic experience.

"Rocketman" is playing in cinemas worldwide.

Watch the full "Rocketman" review here:


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