Edgerton Soars High;
Real And Fantasy Combine;
With A Fresh Structure.
Even nine months after Bohemian Rhapsody was released, it is inevitable that Rocketman will draw comparisons to it, whether or not that is a fair comparison. Two definite similarities, however, are the great soundtrack and incredible lead performance.
Taron Edgerton, a relative newcomer to the screen, knocks it out of the park as Sir Elton John. He captures the aura, showmanship and star quality that made John a household name and does so while actually singing the songs that we all know. He does a wonderful job showing us the darker side of the legend and the emotional trauma that shaped him is emoted very well, barely able to hide under the facade of the costumes and glitz.
These types of films often follow a very familiar pattern and structure, and while the down-and-out rock star arc is front and center as expected, the narrative structure itself changes things up. The change is welcome, as the film is not only told to us as John tells it to a group inside rehab, but the musical nature of much of it helps to set it apart from other concert dramas.
Those musical elements waste no time, starting off right away in Elton’s youth (when he was still Reginald Dwight). It’s a great way to showcase not only how much music meant to him even that far back in his life, but also perfectly illustrates the blend of reality and fantasy that accompanies life as a rock and roll superstar.
If there is something to pick at, for me, it’s that Elton’s life is presented as being somewhat joyless, despite having it all. The central theme of needing to love yourself in order to receive love from others resonates, make no mistake. But someone with such talent and a gift for sharing it with the world and being handsomely compensated for it never seems to be happy. However, his struggles (both personal and professional) add a lot to the film’s closing number.
The road had its ups and downs, but one thing is triumphantly reiterated. Elton John is still standing.
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