THE OSCAR PROJECT
Yan Wong's Reviews
As someone who keeps giving musicals a chance while knowing they aren’t necessarily my cup of tea, I was expectedly disappointed by Rocketman.
The movie opens with Elton John (Taron Egerton) joining a support group in full devil costume, flashy with glitter and complete with devil horns and wings. He breaks down, tells of his various addictions - sex, drugs and alcohol - and then circles back to where it all started: his childhood.
As the narrative begins, we see a young Reginald Dwight (who would go on to become Elton Hercules John) grow up in the 50s and 60s, discover his musical talent, be abandoned by his father and develop a difficult relationship with his mother (Bryce Dallas Howard). He goes on to dream of Rock ’n Roll and stardom, meets his lyricist Bernie Taupin and skyrockets to fame.
Elton starts an affair with his future manager, John Reid (Richard Madden), who later discards Elton once he is successful enough. He spirals into a vicious cycle of drug abuse and addiction that culminates in an attempted suicide followed by rehab.
All this is interspersed with musical numbers and choreography to Elton John songs, which were well performed by Egerton and the rest of the cast. But not only did the musical numbers feel a bit utopian and disconnected from reality, as musicals often do, the rest of the narrative did as well. Considering this is a biopic about a queer person going through many struggles in life, it was missing a certain seriousness.
I watched this as part of a ‘Queer Cinema’ series in a room full of queer people, and while we were all sufficiently entertained, we were not convinced by the portrayal of queer loneliness and other hardships.
Kit Connor excelled as young Reginald Dwight and Bryce Dallas Howard was outstanding as a mother struggling to understand her son, though she had much more potential in the role than what the script gave her.
Ultimately, Rocketman is a flashy, entertaining biopic that left me emotionally untouched, but is worth a watch if you’re into musicals or a die-hard Elton John fan.
6 out of 10