May 27, 2019

CINEMA | Taron Egerton Fantasizes 'Rocketman'

"You were never ordinary."
Taron Egerton Elton John Dexter Fletcher | Rocketman

Rocketman, the fantasy musical biopic of famed singer/showman Elton John starring Taron Egerton, feels like at least two different contrasting stories. The first is your standard entire life stereotypical destructive musician genius reconstruction and the second is a pretty weird, very gay jukebox musical that takes inspiration from the wild life and greatest hits of Britsh songwriter Reginald Dwight.

It's impossible not to compare Rocketman with Bohemian Rhapsody especially since director Dexter Fletcher took over directorial duties on that film around the same time he was making this one. This film takes far more risks and leans on the real-life subject's involvement yet it tries to do so much with its story of addiction, failed romance, and sexual identity. It's unsurprising how theatrical the film's sequences feel as you'd guess it was based on a stage musical.

Produced by Matthew Vaughn and scripted by veteran British playwright Lee Hall, the story takes risks but just not enough of them. It plays with biopic conventions but then adheres to them a little too precisely albeit much less literally.

Egerton is totally game in a truly flashy, electrifying performance full of bravado. A well-worn Jamie Bell as John's closest partner and lyricist, Bernie Taupin, is just magical. Their unique relationship and partnership is the core of the movie and Bell (who also ages gracefully up seamlessly throughout the film) really grounds the fantastical life of John.

Taron Egerton Elton John Dexter Fletcher | Rocketman

The rest of the cast is serviceable but sort of too on the nose. The far too good-looking Richard Madden as the evil music manager (John Reid, who was also Queen's manager played by Aiden Gillen in Rhapsody) is pure caricature. A very campy Bryce Dallas Howard is ridiculously hammy as John's bitter mother and is not aged so well throughout the film as she's only eight years older than Egerton.

It's clear how therapeutic much of the film must have been for John as he really rails against his parents' indifference to him growing up among other grievances. One of the final scenes culminates in a rehab group therapy framing device where Egerton as John literally confronts all his past demons and explains his own psychology to the audience and himself.

Rocketman really goes for it, but I wish it had both leaned less and more selectively into the cannon of Elton John. It doesn't do enough precisely because it tries far too hard to do too much. It could've used much more of John's creative imagination for spectacle yet despite its familiarity, the film tells its story in enough new ways for it to feel original.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / Polygon / The Playlist / Vox

0 reactions:

Post a Comment