Friday Film Review - "Rocketman"

Jun 7, 2019

Following the example of “Bohemian Rhapsody” a new film telling the story of a rock n roll legend has hit the big screen.

From the very first moments of “Rocketman”, a kind of spell settles on you. Magic, lights, and color weave you in and out of reality and fantasy as the movie tells the story of Elton John. The movie is less concerned with precise facts than with the telling of deep emotional truths, which soar to their greatest heights on the wings of Elton’s music as arranged by Giles Martin. The iconic songs move past their familiar renditions and become the living, breathing embodiment of the characters and situations in the story. It’s a finely tuned modern musical that surpasses the likes of “La La Land”. In fact, you will never hear Elton John’s music in the same way again.

This movie is anchored with a stunning performance by Taron Egerton who plays Elton John. His raw performance infuses every frame with passion and pain. Even more impressive, he does all his own singing. The whole cast is superb with a special nod to Jamie Bell as Elton’s longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin, and Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor who play younger versions of Elton. But the real star of the show, next to the music, is the director Dexter Fletcher. He takes you on a wild ride through Elton’s meteoric rise to stardom and his dizzy descent into drug-hazed addictions. Yet through all the sound and fury, he never loses touch with the central core of the story. Just as Elton in rehab removes his masks and protective layers one by one, Dexter deftly reveals the heart of Elton, piece by piece.

Beyond all the magic, lights and color, this is the very real story we all live to some degree—a story of a lonely child who was told he would “never be loved properly” by his mom, while his dad told him, “You’re not really my thing.” We all end up doing a lot of desperate things to fill those holes until it sinks in that we will never find real love until we finally learn to love ourselves.

“Rocketman” is rated R for persistent strong language, drug use, and sexual content. If you’re going to see it, fasten your seatbelts. If “Bohemian Rhapsody” put you in Freddy Mercury’s shoes, “Rocketman” will snort you in and rush you through the veins and into the very heart and soul of Elton John.