Rocketman [InsideOut19 Review]

In 2013, Dexter Fletcher was announced as the director of Bohemian Rhapsody. He would go on to leave the project for creative differences in the same year. But then when the director of the film was fired following a series of events, Fletcher came back to finish the product and deliver the best product he could with what he was working with. I truly believe that the experience of Bohemian influenced greatly what Rocketman is. Because Rocketman is everything that Bohemian wanted to be.

Rocketman doesn’t limit itself with being a straightforward biopic, instead of going the route of a fantasy-musical and allowing itself of living within the story. Because of that, Fletcher is able to play with genre and go back and forth with past and present with an ease that would not have been there if the film at decided to go the linear route. Rocketman doesn’t limit itself to concert and recording sessions for the songs and weaves the music flawlessly with the situations in Elton’s life.

Elton’s music is known to the world but maybe his life isn’t. At least, it wasn’t too me. But while having a few pacing issues at certain moments, Rocketman is able to move past that and deliver an important message. Learn to love yourself. That is the theme of the film. And it works so well. By the end, Elton finally learns to love himself. And that might have been one of my favourite sequences and it works so well because of the fantasy-musical route they went with. The whole film Elton hates himself for who he is and believes what everyone says to him. But by the end, he is still standing.

Taron Egerton (Kingsman) might not be the obvious choice for Elton John but what a choice. Not only does he portrays the character in such a fantastic and believable way, but he also has the perfect voice for it. Egerton might not sound like John all the time but he loses himself in the role. You don’t see Taron Egerton, instead, you see Elton John. While Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurrasic World) might be somewhat a miscast at certain times, she also brings some of the biggest laughs of the film.

If the relationship between John and Reid might be the romantic one, the most important one is between Taupin and John. And that is true of their life. Without Taupin, John would have been just another piano player. I chuckled at the way the two came to be together but they were a match made in heaven. Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) is a great supporting man to Egerton and plays the very quiet character in a very subtle way that elevates Egerton in every way. Their dynamic works so well and they both let the other shine when they need too.

Rocketman is the first film from a major studio to have a male-male sex scene and that is a major thing. Because not only do we see a sex scene between Egerton and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) but there are multiple oral-sex scenes and even more implications of sex. It’s never hidden that John is gay and instead is at the centre of most of his problems. This is something important and that deserves to be celebrated because if one studio does it, others will follow suit.

I think that was Rocketman does the best is that it never tries to vilify Elton John. He even says himself that he was a prick and doesn’t excuse his behaviour. Instead, he is held accountable. And his addiction is treated with respect. And even if there is a villain to his story, Richard Madden’s John Reid is shown to have loved Elton and it’s instead of their way of life that destroyed their relationship. Even when Reid is an ass, John is right behind him. It’s not a healthy relationship and both parties are at fault.

Rocketman isn’t perfect. It runs just a little too long, some of the pacings is sometimes difficult but it is a movie that knows exactly what is it and entertains you from start to finish. Lead beautifully by Egerton, it leans heavily on the fantastical side of the music and creates a piece of art that is elevated by the music and lyrics of one of the most prolific duo of all time, Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

You can catch Rocketman when it comes out in theatres on May 31st.

And stay with us as we deliver to you more of out Inside Out Film Festival 2019 coverage.