My basic attitude toward Dexter Fletcher‘s Rocketman, which opened last night, is one of muted respect. As I said during the Cannes Film Festival, it’s not great and can’t say I loved it overall, but I was genuinely pleased and throttled by the first half-hour or so. As much as I felt underwhelmed by the drugs-and-debauchery section, I couldn’t put it down at the end because at the very least it’s an actual “musical” and at the end of the day is a better, more ambitious film than Bohemian Rhapsody.
Presumably a portion of the HE community saw it last night. Reactions are hereby requested.
From “For What It Is, Rocketman Works,” posted on 5.17:
I went into Rocketman with an attitude, but I felt pleasantly turned around soon enough. I was more taken with the first 30 to 40 minutes (Elton John‘s childhood, taking piano lessons as a teen, teaming with young Bernie Taupin) and less with the remainder, which is basically about Elton becoming more and more of a booze-swigging, coke-snorting party animal and his life downswirling into addiction and self-destruction.
I respect Dexter Fletcher‘s decision to not tell Elton’s saga Bohemian Rhapsody-style, using a linear “this happened and then that happened” approach. Instead he chose a more creative and dynamic (not to mention more cinematic) scheme by making it into a punched up, inventively choreographed, mad-brush Ken Russell musical.
The framing device is Elton confessing all during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Out of this comes a looking-back-at-my-life, All That Jazz-type deal that uses several John-Taupin songs as emotional backdrops or undercurrents for various biographical moments.
The film isn’t biographically accurate in many respects (the musical scheme requires a suspension of realism and chronological history) and there’s a lot more interest in a glitter-and-glam aesthetic than any kind of semi-realistic presentation of how things really went down, but this is the film they chose to make.
My dissatisfaction with Egerton’s singing voice, which sounds only vaguely like John’s, remains. Now that I’ve seen the whole magillah, I can say definitively that Egerton’s singing moments are only mildly sufficient (they don’t stop the film in its tracks but they don’t quite knock you out either), and that I would have felt a lot more satisfied or soothed if he was capable of sounding like the Real McCoy. He tries, of course, to sound as much like Elton as he can (Showbiz Junkies‘ Rebecca Murray seems to believe otherwise), but he can’t get there.
Egerton seems a little taller and more muscular that the Real McCoy (he’s 5′ 9″ compared to John’s 5′ 7″) but I wouldn’t call that an actual quibble.