Movie Review: 'Rocketman'

John Thomas
Taron Egerton in Rocketman

There are rare opportunities when film-goers can see a biopic that is as accurate in its story telling as it is entertaining. Dexter Fletcher has created such a film in Rocketman. The convincing accuracy is due in part to the fact that Elton John is the executive producer and is still alive.

Producers usually have great influence on how a film is made, especially in a biopic – what is included and what is to be omitted. Brief words or glances that only the subject of the film can know, contribute significant insights into the character. Unless the subject left copious notes on his life for a screenwriter to read, how else would they know that?

When young Reginald Dwight (aka Elton John) auditioned for a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, he arrived on time with no preparation or music to play. The woman who was to audition him was busy at the piano playing a classical selection with much pleasure.

Upon seeing Elton she abruptly stopped and invited him on stage to play for her using the music he had brought. Well, he hadn’t any music so he played what she had just played. When he abruptly stopped she asked him “Why did you stop?” He replied, “Well, that’s where you stopped.”

Then there is his music used in the film. Each selection is presented using a different format – not at all like listening to songs on an old 78LP. One song may be sung with an underwater background, another in front of an audience of thousands.

Next Elton (Taron Egerton) may be at the piano singing to his long time friend and lyrics collaborator Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) or his family. One selection is played while Elton floats skyward from the keyboard. His cheering audience is also elevated several feet above the ground. The beautiful threads of his music have been creatively woven into a dazzling tapestry of music.

John Reid (Richard Madden), his initial manager, appeared to be a scheming crook. His mother Shelia (Bryce Dallas) treated Elton cruelly and was very dismissive of him, his music and obvious talents. His father was was distant, condemning and critical.

These obstacles to a sensitive, imaginative and very creative person would easily lead to a life of alcohol and drug abuse – which happened. Yet, Elton prevailed. Not everyone succeeds at a rehabilitation center for substance abuse, but he did.

Back on track again, even bearing the weight of global notoriety and fame, Elton is finally able to enjoy life, find love and acceptance – especially self acceptance. His many accomplishments continue to increase as does his fame. This film is indeed a rare opportunity to look into the life of someone of note who “is still standing” – taller than ever.

Directed by Dexter Fletcher (Credits: Eddie the Eagle, Sunshine on Leith), Rocketman is a “must see” movie that runs 121 minutes.


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