It's such a shame that it's not making more money at the box office, and has really come out too early for awards contention. Proper, ambitious, artistic work like this should be getting rewarded in some way. Otherwise we're going to end up with another hundred bog-standard wikipedia-based band biopics chasing the BoRhap almost-billion box office.
I keep seeing people saying that it'll make a great stage show, but I am not sure I agree that it'll adapt well - so much of its storytelling is done via inherently cinematic techniques like camera work and editing. And the cast's performances - Taron and Jame Bell especially - I am not sure you can replicate the chemistry of those on stage, they rely so much on the intimacy of film.
Yes I get what you mean with the cinematic techniques and effects but that is an element that screamed out stage musical because you can easily create surreal moments on stage and of course it wouldn't be exactly like the film but it would be a great brash stylised piece onstage
So, I'm interested if anyone has thoughts on this - I've seen several criticisms of this film from people around and about t'internet describing it as 'self-pitying' or being too focused on Elton John.
I find this take a bit puzzling, personally - it's a film about Elton John's struggle with addiction, and subsequent journey to sobriety, so what else would it be focused on? How can you make a film about someone's struggle with addiction and almost-self-destruction without exploring the problems that led to it?
But lots of people seem to want a film about Elton John to be focused on something else other than his personal life - on the making of albums, perhaps, or on his appeal as an artist.
The latter idea strikes me as really being a film about the audience rather than the artist, and I'm not quite sure how you make that as a feature film rather than as a documentary.
The former is what Love & Mercy did quite successfully - I'm not at all convinced the story of any of Elton John's albums is as compelling as Pet Sounds, though.
Ideas, anyone? How do you make a movie about an artist that isn't a Mamma Mia/Yesterday style fiction with songs pegged-in or a biopic about their actual life?
So, I'm interested if anyone has thoughts on this - I've seen several criticisms of this film from people around and about t'internet describing it as 'self-pitying' or being too focused on Elton John. [br
I mean.... what else is a film called Rocketman going to focus on? It's the Elton biopic! Who did people think it was about? Did people see the title and think they would be getting the Neil Armstrong story?
I know, right?! I actually think it does a pretty good job than being about more than *just* Elton, thematically - I’ve seen a lot of people who are in recovery or just therapy themselves saying how much it resonated with them.
But it’s a pretty persistent complaint with musician biopics, that they don’t really reveal enough about the musician’s appeal/talent/creativity, and I’m a little bit puzzled as to how you’d actually do that. Most musicians who I’ve heard talk about their songwriting don’t seem to know how they do it themselves - the music just sort of comes, or doesn’t come.
Elton himself just sits down with the lyrics and plays - he doesn’t spend more than an hour on anything, if he hasn’t got it by then it’s not happening. How do you dramatise that? Other than how they did it in the film with Your Song, which made it about the relationship between Elton and Bernie.
I think Taron Egerton deserves nominations all over the place - it is such a commanding performance. Entertaining, nuanced, committed, intelligent.
I would have liked a bit more depth to the script. Certain relationships weren't as developed as I would have liked - particularly with Bernie (which felt sketchy throughout) and Richard Madden's character
But overall it was a good piece of work.
I can see it transitioning to the stage, indeed it felt like a stage musical a lot of the time. The therapy framing device would translate easily and the presentation is inevitably theatrical because that is a strong part of Elton.
But Egerton is a star. And not just because he is very easy on the eye!
Bernie's really interesting. He's got his own little storyline chugging away in the background (literally in the background in one of the scenes) that Elton just isn't noticing because he is too wrapped up in his own life.
It's a clever little perspective trick that you notice when you re-watch it. We're seeing everything from Elton's perspective - there's stuff happening around him that he just isn't paying attention to.
You could probably make a companion piece entirely from John Reid's perspective that would look quite different. I know people have been joking about making the 'John Reid cinematic universe' because he shows up in Bohemian Rhapsody too, but I do genuinely think you could make an interesting film from that perspective. Particularly if you were willing to show the reality of what rock stars got up to - it must have been absolutely terrifying to have an entire multi-million dollar industry depending on the work of people who seemed determined to self-destruct.
Yes, I think it needs an extra 10 minutes too. Though I'd probably add it to the end for a bit of extra upswing post-therapy - the ending feels abrupt to me. I wanted an Elton-David Furnish meet-cute, hopeless romantic that I am.
Fingers crossed for lots of deleted scenes on the DVD. Dexter Fletcher has already said there's an extended Honky Cat sequence - they cut a whole dance routine out of it, bits of which were shown in the early trailer, so lots of people have been asking for it.
After weeks of wondering whether singing along is *really* appropriate (sing-a-long-a-suicide-attempt?!) I’ve succumbed and booked a ticket to the Prince Charles Cinema singalong showing on the Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of crowd turns out and how they react, at least.
Now this is on DVD, it gives us an excuse to drag this thread up again, which for me is great, because… Well, Sunshine on Leith is still the greatest film ever made, but Rocketman is the second greatest. I just adored this film. It’s such a beautiful adaptation of Elton’s Life and music, mostly because it’s amazingly also a story any smalltown kid can relate to. Dexter Fletcher is a veritable genius – he always sees and portrays both the best and fullest of his characters, and in doing so has already made two of the best English musicals ever.
The kernel of its genius is that but it finds something truly universal in this story, something relatable to anyone, and incredibly empathetic to those in need of its help. Strip everything away – Elton’s life or Elton’s legend – and it’s a deeply personal, intimate film about wanting to be loved, by our family, by our loves, by our ‘brothers’ – it’s an optimistic film with artistic depth, true integrity, and empathy for anyone in such a situation. Whilst lazier rock-docs* climax with the biggest gig of a career, Rocketman walks out of Madison Square Gardens, and peaks with a hug. That hug, that scene, could be you or me.
*You know what I’m talking about. I finally saw it. It’s a bunch of toothless hagiography with miming in between. Rami Malek’s good but the script gives him nothing to do. Watching his last twenty minutes of carefully recreated lip-syncing, all I could think is: Bohemian Rhapsody is just drag for straight people.
The way Lee Hall and Dexter Fletcher – controversially – makes this musical a musical is remarkable. As a biopic it’s a thorough and insightful way to tell Elton’s story, but in every musical choice they also tell Reg Dwight’s story, making each song as relevant to disposed small-town kids as to fans of big pop numbers pays dividends, in a story that musically fizzes, and emotionally wrings us out. By making “Crocodile Rock” literally fly, the film recreates the experience of hearing the song for the first time, floating in awe, joyous and exuberant and NEW. The framing of “Your Song”, conversely, is almost painterly; that biopic staple “genius makes his work of genius” scene is hard to do, but by having established Elton’s ease of writing, and then framing it with Bernie so present, the genius shared, little laughs here and there, it hammers home the beauty and musical brilliance of that partnership – the champagne pop finale is a musical touch in and of itself. Finally, “I’m Still Standing” using/recreating archive footage might look simple, but use of reality in this fantasy was every bit as incisive as the archival footage end of Mad Men – placing our hero’s expression in a real world. Everything Dexter Fletcher did was exquisite.
Best cast of the year? Billy Elliott’s a great film, but who’d have thought Jamie Bell would be the versatile great he is today? One of my favourite moments was before the Albert Hall concert, with his resigned acceptance of Elton’s apology – it’s a perfect encapsulation of that sort of love. His final line of “You’re my brother” beautifully reiterates one of the film’s familial morals, unexpectedly calls back to “Border Song, and perfectly ties up that friendship. It’s the attention to detail in those smallest moments that makes this so lovely.
Richard Madden is hot. I’m sure he’s a great actor but I was distracted.
At one of Stephen Graham’s lines I laughed so much the cinema started laughing at me.
At its heart, Taron Edgerton gives an extraordinarily layered performance. Young Elton has a shyness (“shy”, incidentally, being a euphemism Alan Bennett’s family used a lot to describe him as a young gay man, something I think Lee Hall brilliantly runs with), and even when Taron Edgerton’s tarted up in Queen Elizabeth garb or stripped completely naked, that shyness runs through him like a stick of Blackpool Rock. It’s an unshowy performance that doesn’t draw attention to itself, but really shines in Elton’s excesses. Come award season he’ll be remembered or else. Hopefully Dexter Fletcher will be too.
Incidentally, whilst Eddie the Eagle isn’t a great film, and certainly no Sunshine on Leith or Rocketman, I think it’s Dexter Fletcher’s mission statement. His characters may not always win, but boy will Dexter Fletcher let them try, and boy is Dexter Fletcher on their side. I think he’s a great cinemamaker, but I think he’s probably a great friend too, and that shines through most profoundly watching Davy and Ally readjust to Glasgow, or watching Elton just want someone to hug him.
I saw it three times in cinemas, which is a record for me. I still walk down the street and think of the “Honky Cat” scene and just burst out grinning, or the penultimate scene and have to hold back crying in public. The reason I’ve kept coming back to it – and will now it’s on home entertainment – is because it’s a film that acknowledges the difficulty of overcoming our pasts, but highlights the importance of new family, friends, ‘brothers’. Making such an insightful and universal film from such a mainstream source – and serving both masters perfectly – makes this such a glorious piece of work.
Only one caveat – who hires Sharon D Clarke for a musical, and doesn’t have her sing? Still, if you loved it, now go watch Sunshine on Leith.
“Movie Musicals don’t change the world but they last longer than most dictators” – John Kander ~~~~~ Macbeth, fighting in a battle, sighted Macduff who said “Despair”, then (to put it my way): “Now’s the time for you to be a wary ‘un: I wasn’t really born - it was a Caesarian.”