Genre: Biopic, Musical
Directed by: Dexter Fletcher
Starring: Taron Egerton, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, Jamie Bell, Gemma Jones, Matthew Illesley.
Of all the biopics that rocked the screens in 2019, ‘Rocketman’ manages to soar higher than the rest and tells the tale of the one, the only- Sir Elton Hercules John!
For those of y’all who are late to the party, Sir Elton John is a singer known for his lavish costumes, showmanship, extremely charitable heart and is also an LGBTQ rights activist and a pianist extraordinaire with killer singing skills…. but all that is just one side to him. What this movie brings to the screen is a side to him that not many know about or at least, I didn’t know about till I tuned in to this gem of a biopic based on the ups, the downs and all the obstacles that came in Reginald’s (Sir Elton John’s birth name was Reginald Dwight) way and what made him the spotlight-stealing star whom we all music aficionados know today.
At the start, we are introduced to Sir Elton in all his feathery, glittery, lavish, showstopping glory as he saunters down a hallway in a larger than life, carnivalesque costume that no other musician would ever dare to wear, right before he bursts into…the doors of a rehab centre. From the get-go, you realise this is a movie that isn’t gonna mince words about its protagonist’s drug issues, about his own estranged family who didn’t appreciate him like his fans did, about the people who stood by him but whom he ended up disappointing, as well as about the people whom he stood by and trusted but who ended up disappointing and betraying him instead (I won’t name them here, cuz that would obviously be spoilers!). And from then on, this intriguing movie reels in the viewers, taking them on a journey of a lifetime, full of hopes and despairs, making them a part of the life of this larger than life, albeit troubled Rocketman.
Of the cast, Taron Egerton (of ‘Kingsman’ fame) performs extraordinarily, terrifically well as the pitch-perfect singer and the actor’s spot-on ability to cover the songs of a legend, instead of merely lip-syncing them (Sir Elton, who also produced the biopic, himself suggested this)- from soft and sweet ballads like ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Your Song’ to the sky-rocketing rock number ‘Rocketman’ (and now ya know why the movie is called what it is) -often threaten to overshadow the original. Yup, he is just that great at embodying a legendary singer and I haven’t seen a performance in a biopic of this calibre since Joaquin Phoenix’s turn as Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic ‘Walk the Line’. Another actor who turns in an applause-worthy performance as Sir Elton’s best pal Bernie Taupin is Jamie Bell (of ‘Billy Elliot’ and ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ fame). Other supporting cast like Bryce Dallas Howard (putting her best foot and her best English accent forward as she steps into the shoes of Elton’s mum), Richard Madden as the loathsome and cold-hearted manager John Reid who treats the upcoming star as nothing more than a cash dispensing boy-toy and even the young bloke playing Elton John as ‘Reggie the rising child prodigy’- Matthew Illesley- are top-notch in their respective roles.
Apart from the brilliant performances and the story that delves super-deep into the life of its subject without painting him in a caricaturish or bad light, the music is also aces and the songs are appropriately placed. The costume designer deserves a special mention for all the effort put in to recreate Sir Elton John’s outlandish clothing, headgear, et al. Often, you’re left wondering whether these creations are merely replicas or whether they really came from Sir Elton’s own colourful closet and that in itself is a feat to be applauded!
So, if you’re a fan of freshly outta the closet biopics with room for everything from a beautiful, at times tear-jerking story that tells it like it sees it, no holds barred to showstopping performances and great, foot-tapping music, this one is for you. And on a sarcastic note, if you are one of those who get offended even by the teensiest of gay sex scenes or homosexual PDA…maybe stay at home…and take the time to feckin grow up!