Rocketman: Due for a long, long, time
Movie Review by Madhusudhanan Sridaran (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Rocketman is, as you guessed it, a musical biopic on Elton John — and his (to say the least) turbulent personal and professional life as an industry legend. As an R-rated movie, you can expect to see unadulterated sex and drug use, and it is indeed shocking to get a raw look at the excesses that John has indulged in during the pinnacle of his career. What is refreshing is that it never portrays John’s homosexuality as a ‘problem’ but rather, it is the excesses of his indulgence that affect him on a deeper level.
John’s multiple relationships include one with his manager John Reed, also with friend and lyricist Bernie Taupin. The second relationship is the foundation for the movie, and it is interesting to see a partnership of this kind. However, what is sure to divide audiences is the focus on John’s personal narrative — the creation of music and the appreciation of the art itself takes a relative backseat, but one can argue that this is compensated by the fact that a majority of the movie’s significant plot points are played out with the help of musical numbers. Elton’s pieces are sure to not disappoint, and the movie’s eponymous track is awe inspiring as it always is when it plays on the big screen. There is a sense of subdued grandeur to Rocketman that gives the movie a sense of charm and elegance that carries it all the way through.
John’s life is a perfect mixture of darkness and light, and the movie’s bittersweet nature does build up to a feeling of impending doom — but it ultimately ends with his redemption, and him coming to terms with the significant events of his life that contribute to who he is. The decision to turn the movie into a musically oriented film is commendable, and there’s no other way in which it could’ve been done. Or at the very least, the tone and aura of the movie is infinitely enhanced by this decision, as one identifies with the soul and pulse of the timeless legend — a lot more than they would with the characterization of the people in his life.
This decision pays off in droves, as we get a clear look into the life and feelings of the star, over what could’ve potentially been a retrospective piece with a lot of boring dialogue and on-point production value. That would’ve been an infinitely less fun movie to watch, and it’s safe to say that the filmmakers dodged a bullet with the decision to produce the movie in the way that they did.
The movie ends with John, for lack of a better word, “finding himself”. There is a montage on John’s current life, and we see the innate nobility that he displays throughout the movie reflected in his current self. An anti-AIDS advocate, paragon of several charities, and devoted father, John’s trials and tribulations shape him into the man that he is today, and the man that he always was: A superstar. An immortal. A legend.