Gareth Cattermole / Staff

Scoot: “Rocketman - The Review”

Scoot
June 03, 2019 - 11:28 am

“Rocketman,” starring Taron Egerton as Elton John, takes you on an insightful journey through the life of the rock icon in a way that is both entertaining and emotional for the audience.  From his relationship with his aloof parents to his quest for acceptance, “Rocketman” was a beautiful cinematic diary of a music genius who became the all too predictable tortured super star.

The method of telling the story of Elton John was more a musical than a traditional biopic, and that presented opportunities to enhance the emotion as many classic Elton John hits began with a soft beginning that seemed more like a thought come to life than the beginning of an extravagant song and dance number.  There were times the flow of the movie reminded me of “The Greatest Showman” with Hugh Jackman.

“Rocketman” could realistically receive Oscar nominations for best direction, best screenplay, best musical score and best cinematography - but the most obvious Oscar nod may be in the category of best actor for Taron Egerton’s realistic portrayal of Sir Elton John.

Taron Egerton’s facial structure and physical appearance are close enough to the real Elton John and the detailed progression of Elton’s hair loss over the years made the audience feel as if it you were witnessing Elton John evolve over time.  Egerton’s astute attention to capturing even the subtle gestures and mannerisms of Elton John gave the movie a sense of reality absent from biopics about true legends.  Egerton is an accomplished singer and dancer, and it would not be a stretch to conceive of him doing a national tour.

There were many moments when the story surprised me, especially the introduction and interaction between Elton and many of the people who were closest to him - personally and professionally - and for that reason I want to be careful how I review the movie because I don’t want to rob you of those surprise moments, like when Elton John first…..well, I’ll leave it there!

From the innocent beginning of his career through the skyrocketing success to his darkest hours, there was one person who loved Elton and always seemed to be his biggest fan and supporter; and that was the man who wrote the lyrics - Bernie Taupin.

“Rocketman” did an excellent job of explaining the close relationship between Elton, who wrote the music, and Bernie Taupin, who wrote the lyrics.  Bernie Taupin did say he “loved” Elton, but not in the way Elton wanted to be loved by Bernie.  There was a scene where Elton became sadly reflective and felt alone when Bernie met a girl who got his attention at a star-studded Hollywood party after an early performance in L.A.  It seemed obvious that Elton wanted a deeper personal relationship to coexist with his professional relationship with Bernie Taupin.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon may have set the standards for a successful songwriting team for the rock generation; but considering the many years they worked together and the meaningful role Bernie played throughout Elton’s life, the songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin has earned them the right to be considered among the best.  The relationship between Elton and Bernie was the relationship between two friends who needed each other in their lives.

Born Reginald Dwight, a constant theme throughout the movie was the battle Elton fought to destroy Reggie to be Elton John. “You need to kill the person you were born to be - to become the person you want to be” was a profound line that I could personally relate to.  I was not born “Scoot,” but the only way to be “Scoot” and the person on the radio and in public was to destroy the extremely insecure person I was.  With my struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and many other confidence killers that were part of who I was, it was imperative that I distinguish myself from the person I thought would never be interesting enough to be a radio personality.  It is not uncommon for us to divorce ourselves from the person we were born as in order to build the confidence it takes to be a success in whatever field.

Elton John’s homosexuality was dealt with in a delicate manner that was reflective of the attitudes at the time Elton “came out.”  There was one lovemaking scene that may be difficult for some to watch; but the scene accurately portrayed gay attraction, which was an integral part of Elton John.

Elton John’s use of drugs and alcohol was predictable.  Parents who didn’t know how to show love, business associates that recognized his talent and were happy to use it for their own gain; and the fear of being who you feel destined to be were all classic reasons people turn to escaping through substance abuse.  Songs like, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” appeared in the movie as a soundtrack for different times in Elton’s life.  The fact that Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics that so personally reflected Elton John’s life demonstrated how close Bernie was to Elton and how much his truly loved the man.

After rehab and with the reality of facing the world clean and sober, Elton asked a common question -“What if I’m not as good without the drugs and alcohol?”  An addict knows they are not their best when under the heavy influence of drugs or alcohol, but there is a deep-rooted fear in facing the world as a new person.  Sincethe drugs or alcohol were used to create confidence, it is only natural that one would question if they will be as good without the drugs or alcohol.

No moment in the movie better explained the close relationship between Elton John and Bernie Taupin than when the hit “I’m Still Standing” was released after rehab.

Here is part of the lyrics:

Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did?

Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid

And I’m still standing after all this time

Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

I’m still standing (yeah, yeah, yeah)

I’m still standing (yeah, yeah, yeah)

Those lyrics perfectly described Elton’s life and comeback, but remember the words were written for Elton by Bernie.  And looking back over their songwriting careers together, there is no question that the songwriting team of Elton John/Bernie Taupin is special. 

As great as “Bohemian Rhapsody” was as the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen, the fact that the actor portraying Elton John did all of the singing ushered in an ambience that made the audience feel as if it had just watched actual footage of Elton John’s life.

Even if Elton John is not your favorite rock legend, “Rocketman” is what a movie is supposed to be.  Credibility to the storyline is supported by the fact that Elton John was one of the executive producers and Elton’s real-life husband, David Furnish, was one of the movie’s producers.

The credits for “Rocketman” appear with actual photos of Elton John and Bernie Taupin past and present and confirm that the events and people in this exceptional movie were real.

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