Sir Elton Hercules John was many things. A chronic substance abuser, an alcoholic, a sex addict, a shop-a-holic and a bulimic. But ultimately, he was a man who hated himself.
Rocketman, directed by Dexter Fletcher, tells the extraordinary life of Reginald Dwight and how he became Elton John: by killing the person he was born to be in order to be the person he wanted to be. Young Reginald Dwight (portrayed by Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor) grew up in a relatively strict household with his grandmother (Gemma Jones), his free-spirited mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard) and his absent and impassive father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh).
Dwight’s childhood was far from perfect, but the one constant thing in his life was his sheer love for music. After discovering his piano skills, Sheila and Dwight’s grandmother sent him for piano lessons, supporting him through his lessons at the Royal Academy of Music. As he grew older, Dwight began performing at local pubs before he sought for employment at a record company and changed his name to Elton John (played by Taron Egerton).
Despite his remarkable ability to conjure up unbelievable melodies, he was never great at constructing the lyrics to accompany them. It was then that John met and teamed up with song lyricist, and now his long-time best-friend, Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). These two seemed to click instantly and quickly formed the perfect musical duo. They first began writing for other artists, but after a few years of collaborating together, they managed to make a name for themselves on the music charts, with John representing the both of them on stage—as the pianist and the vocalist.
From there, Elton John caught the world by storm, quickly becoming an international sensation. He transformed into the Sir Elton Hercules John that we have grown to ‘know’ and love today. However, nothing was ever as perfect as it seemed. Beneath the thick-rimmed sparkly glasses and the flamboyant outfits, was a lonely man who just wanted to be loved. This film provides us with a very vivid depiction of the side of Elton John that the world wasn’t privy to.
Rocketman marks the second biographical film that Taron Egerton’s starred in as the lead—the first being Eddie the Eagle (2016). This is also the third film in which Egerton has showcased his musical talents, first lending his voice to the song ‘Thrill Me’ for the Eddie the Eagle film soundtrack, and then displaying his soulful side in the animated 2016 film Sing as Johnny the gorilla. Impressively, Egerton sings all of the songs from Rocketman himself and the film does an excellent job of fitting so many of John’s classic hits into the film at just the right moment. Each song seemingly unfolds a different segment of John’s life.
The second half of the film does seem a little rushed compared to the first portion of the film. It briefly glosses over many events from his life, such as John’s first marriage, however I don’t think that this should be held against the film. I appreciated that the producers made sure to include these life events, to remain true to Elton John’s life—even if they were only tended to for a short period of time.
In conclusion, the music, the performances, the costumes and the story were all beyond spectacular. And as far as biographical films go, if Rocketman can move Elton John—the man himself—to tears, then it must be good.
Rocketman is in cinemas now!