Just a thought… I know I’m a handful that’s why you’ve got two hands. [K. Michelle, “Brain on Love”]
Looking for something to do this weekend, or perhaps in weeks to come? I wanted to share with you some thoughts on a movie Rob and I saw last week – before I tell you tomorrow about a film coming out that we will never be able to watch and why.
Rocketman is a fantasy directed by Dexter Fletcher, whose last credit was taking over the director’s duties on another little biopic you may have heard of called Bohemian Rhapsody. Like BH, Rocketman is based on an almost-incredible real life: this, of one Reginald Dwight, better known as Elton John.
The movie grabs you from the outset. An enormous, costumed demon/god of a man storms through a series of hallways and doors in slo-mo, on the way to group therapy, which brilliantly provides the means for all of the film’s exposition. What got me right away, though, were not the sights so much as the sounds: the music of Elton John in a dreamy yet explosive score captures your attention immediately. While watching the film’s credits, we learned the reason for that.
The man behind putting Elton’s expansive and gold-dust-sprinkled musical catalogue to film was none other than Giles Martin. Giles is the son of oft-nicknamed “Fifth Beatle” producer/collaborator Sir George Martin. Giles and his now-late father collaborated on Beatles LOVE, the innovative and positively extraordinary re-imagining and remixing of the Fab Four’s hits that is the soundtrack for the Las Vegas show of the same name. (If you haven’t heard this album and are a Beatles fan, I cannot urge you strongly enough to download it. Now. Like, right now. Just come back when you have.)
So, the film is gifted with the musical pedigree of Elton John (played perfectly by Taron Egerton) and his mega-hit-writing partner Bernie Taupin (beautifully portrayed by Billy Elliot‘s lovely Jamie Bell), plus aforementioned producing royalty Giles Martin. Even if the story wasn’t gripping, gritty and well-told, you’d have a winner from the get-go. But the fact is, it’s a good film. A really good film.
We’d see it again, as it ended too soon for our liking and – spoiler alert – it has Smash! Broadway! Hit! written all over it. No doubt, Elton and his husband David Furnish have already taken steps towards bringing Rocketman to the Great White Way and London’s West End. They could only hope to find someone as talented as Taron Egerton, who not only acted, but also SANG (and danced) his part. For real.
Rocketman is well worth the price of admission. I couldn’t help but marvel how incredible it is that, after the years of overindulging and self-harm, this man is, to quote a song title, still standing.
One caveat: this film is fantastical in many ways. In making it, they didn’t follow an exact chronology of Elton’s music. So if you hear a song from the 80s in a scene set in the 70s, just park your disbelief and go with the flow. Enjoy it for the frothy, furious ride it is.
And what did Sir Elton think of this brutally honest portrayal of his life, tantrums, tiaras, OD’s, family drama and all? Tellingly, he and David co-produced the film so, yes, it had his seal of approval. A brief few slides at the end of the movie show their beautiful family (including two young sons) as well as updates on the monies he’s raised for charity and how long he’s been sober. Thanks to the amazing music he’s given us, Rocketman reminds us how wonderful life is while Elton’s in the world.
Back tomorrow with the movie that will likely bend or break some box office records this weekend, but to which we definitely won’t be going. For all of the best reasons, I hope.