After the outstanding success of the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” is released ROCKETMAN now the next film about a world-class musician. And that is by no means the only thing the two films have in common. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
Mid-1960s: Reginald Dwight (Taron Egerton) is a completely normal boy in a suburb of London, a bit fat, far too shy – he only really feels comfortable at the piano. But when he comes to London, he can finally live out his true passion: rock ‘n’ roll. He meets lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) and quickly attracts attention on the London scene. Only the name doesn’t fit: Only when Reginald changes his name to Elton John, nothing stands in the way of his rocket-like rise, because on stage the shy Reggie transforms into an extraordinary rock singer. In a very short time, Elton John shot to the top of the charts, wrote one number one hit after another and wore increasingly wild costumes and glasses. But those who rise steeply can also fall deeply, and Elton John knows that he cannot be a Rocketman forever.
Explanation of the Ending
The Elton John biopic “Rocketman” is so dazzling, so special and unconventional that it would have been ideal to finally establish the British actor Dexter Fletcher, who has worked as an actor for decades, as a director. Although this is his fourth directorial work, the drama “Wild Bill”, which was never released in this country, the romantic comedy “Make My Heart Fly” and the Eddie Edwards portrait “Eddie the Eagle” never became big hits. But then everything turned out differently. Together with cameraman Newton Thomas Siegel, Dexter Fletcher saved the disastrous production history of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by briefly replacing the disgraced Bryan Singer. The end result is controversial, but certainly not because you can see the chaos behind the scenes, but because there is a lot of disagreement about how good Anthony McCarten’s script really is. If you weren’t quite sure from “Bohemian Rhapsody” how much of a Dexter Fletcher vibe there is in the film, his follow-up work “Rocketman” reveals: obviously very, very much, because they are visually and sometimes also scenically similar Musician biographies strong. Nevertheless, Fletcher has fully embraced the extravagant personality of his protagonist: “Rocketman” is surprisingly not just a musical film, but a melancholic musical that achieves the feat of moving from the rocket-like rise to the dramatic fall in the context of an AA meeting Superstars to capture the entire emotional range and be just as powerful and optimistic as they are devastating and sad. And in the middle of it all, “Kingsman” star Taron Egerton delivers an award-worthy (singing) performance.
Sherila (Bryce Dallas Howard), Ivy (Gemma Jones) and Bernie (Jamie Bell) listen to Elton’s (Taron Egerton) “Your Song”.
Let’s stay for a moment with the comparison between “Rocketman” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” – simply because it will be exciting to see whether the Queen film was just a big exception (films about Musicians have actually never really been successful at the box office) or whether he has started a new trend. Despite grossing over $800 million, opinions about “Bohemian Rhapsody” vary widely. Above all, the lack of accuracy in the retelling of true events is one of the major criticisms of the Oscar-winning drama (Rami Malek was awarded “Best Actor” in 2019). The dark sides of Freddy Mercury’s life were only given little light; “Bohemian Rhapsody” was above all a feel-good film in which his AIDS illness, his early death and the disagreements and disputes within the band only found limited space in favor of the dramaturgy suitable for a family film. “Rocketman,” on the other hand, begins directly at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. And before we even get to enjoy the first brightly colored pop musical number, the young Elton John recites the entire range of drugs and addictive substances that he was addicted to at the time (he has been clean since 1990). In any case, the second half of “Rocketman” is primarily about Elton John’s fall from grace or the time in which he tried to maintain his dazzling stage identity and hide his unhappy private soul, which had long since become addicted to addiction. But how does Dexter Fletcher reconcile this dark chapter of Elton John’s life with the feel-good attitude of a musical?
Screenwriter Lee Hall provides the answer to the question (“Victoria & Abdul”). Although Dexter Fletcher stages the singing and dancing interludes in a very energetic, imaginative and sometimes even surrealistic way, at the same time they always have something bitter about them due to the narrative context. For example, when Elton argues with his lyricist Bernie shortly before an acclaimed performance because he has long since noticed his best friend’s emotional decline, Elton’s passion is in stark contrast to those lonely moments between the brilliant performances; and the laughing, costumed musical genius gradually becomes a sad clown, behind whose facade “Rocketman” provides unusually intimate insights – especially when you consider that Elton John himself served as the film’s producer. However, the resulting fear that the makers were only allowed to work on the musician’s greatest moments quickly vanishes into thin air. In “Rocketman,” Elton John is equal parts musical genius and stage star as he is shy and soon becomes an addict who, in between all the new challenges of his sudden fame, also has to come to terms with finding his sexual identity. His brief marriage of illusion or desperation with the USA sound engineer Renate Blauel is just as briefly mentioned as the unhealthy relationship with his manager John Reid (“Game of Thrones” star Richard Madden). And contrary to earlier plans to cut the film in favor of a lower age rating, a sex scene between the two even made it into the film.
In “Rocketman” normal music film scenes become surrealistic choreographies full of poetry.
But honestly, even if not always carried out in great detail (the marriage with Blauel, for example, only includes a few scenes in “Rocketman”), the moments with the family could have used a little more screen time in order to better understand the difficult relationship between Elton and his parents The scenes in which Elton John’s musical work is the sole focus are so powerful and intense that those responsible can take their main character to task. It is precisely here that Fletcher takes advantage of the fact that his film is not just a music film, but an exaggerated musical: whenever a narrative section warrants it, he has his characters sing and dance in scenes that are sometimes extremely elaborately choreographed and filmed; regardless of the time when the song being performed was created. The advantage for Elton John fans: They can enjoy a particularly large number of pieces. From “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” (an early highlight in the film) to a touching studio performance of “Your Song” to the triumphant conclusion with “I’m Still Standing,” Fletcher works his way through the musical vita of the now 72-year-old Superstars. And thanks to the musical form, Fletcher evades any claim to complete accuracy. Someone else takes it particularly seriously: Taron Egerton, who sang all of his songs from “Rocketman” live, is not only remarkably close to the original vocally, but also puts all his passion and acting talent into the embodiment of the young Elton John. You can finally see how well he succeeds in this in the finale, when the reenactment of the music video for “I’m Still Standing” merges seamlessly into the original at some point. That’s what you call the ideal cast.
Conclusion: Director Dexter Fletcher stages the rise and fall of world musician Elton John as a musical biopic that is both melancholic and groovy, for which he reconciles the contradictory attributes of his dazzling and tragic hero in a remarkably harmonious way.
“Rocketman” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from May 30th.