- Fiona Prior
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Written by: Lee Hall
Striding down the white and pristine corridor of a sober institution and shedding feathers everywhere, we first encounter Elton John dressed in an orange sequined body suit, oversized wings, a horned headdress and diamanté-framed spectacles! At the end of the corridor is a therapy circle of monochrome-dressed people speaking softly and sharing their problems.
“My name is Elton John and I’m an alcoholic, cocaine addict, sex addict, bulimic, pills, prescription drugs, shopaholic, and I like a bit of weed….”, begins Elton John’s on screen story.
Well, Elton’s actual story doesn’t begin in this room but our insight into Elton’s life is framed by the flashback therapy structure of Dexter Fletcher’s film. We are about to go back in history and meet small town youngster Reginald Dwight who was to grow up to become one of the world’s biggest superstars.
Now, try to imagine if you can this flashback therapy session as a singing, dancing, 50’s-style musical extravaganza; albeit with lots of illicit substances and a few suicide attempts. Welcome to the outrageously tuneful, colourful and roller-coaster biopic 'Rocketman'. Taron Egerton’s performance as Elton is extraordinary, and he and director Dexter Fletcher take us on a wildly wonderful journey.
From a little boy who couldn’t understand why his father wouldn’t hug him; to a musical prodigy who turned on to rock ‘n roll; to a young man discovering his sexuality; to one of the fastest rising international superstars of our memory; it was not easy being Elton John.
The film showcases Elton’s hits but also showcases his life-time friendship with lyricist and best friend Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). Their personal and professional relationship – one a straight boy and one a vividly not straight boy – is a joy, and possibly the most beautiful take-away from the film.
Along the way we meet the sleazy manager/agent John Reid (Richard Madden) who takes Elton’s virginity and who uses and abuses the then appallingly naïve young man for his commercial gain. We also meet Kiki Dee, Renate Blauel (Elton’s momentary wife), and all sorts of music industry royalty and their hangers-on.
We understand that Elton fills the void of love he feels somehow to be his lot in life (and not just a cold-fish family and badly chosen first-time gay lover) with all of the above substances until his real friend Taupin ‒ plus a little flash of survival instinct – has him book himself in for mayor detoxing.
“I’m still standing! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”
The rolling credits at the end of the movie show a man who has been sober for 28 years, with a husband who is the love of his life and who loves him back as devotedly, plus two little boys who ‒ I have no doubt ‒ receive copious hugs from their dads. Elton is the human being right in the middle of that loving family he always yearned for.
One-liners to listen out for:
“I started being a c**t in 1975 and forgot to stop”.
“Kill the person you were born to become the person that you want to be”.