Saturday, November 30, 2019

Movie with Abe: Rocketman

Rocketman
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Released May 31, 2019

Music has an immortal power to live on long beyond the moment in which it’s composed and the artist who creates it. Listening to music can conjure up images, emotions, and feelings. Music videos are one medium in which all that is captured by a song is also expressed visually. To honor a true music legend, however, the most fitting tribute is an all-out musical, transforming the most formative events of that figure’s life into show-stopping numbers with glorious costumes and as much color and fanfare as possible to best represent the essence of the musician being portrayed.

Reginald Dwight (Matthew Illesley) grows up in 1950s Britain, with his musical ambitions supported by his cold mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) and warmer grandmother (Gemma Jones) after his father (Steven Mackintosh) refuses to show him any love. As his talent is noticed, Reginald decides to change his name to Elton John (Taron Egerton). Professional collaborations and personal relationships with songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) and music manager John Reid (Richard Madden) lead to an incredible career for Elton, one that finds him constantly battling addiction and identity issues related to his skills and his sexuality.

Musical biopics are big right now thanks to the success of last year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which also features the character of Reid, who worked with Queen in addition to Elton. Unlike that film, which presented some of the band’s most popular songs in concert form, this film reimagines each of Elton’s most memorable tunes as an expression of something he experienced during his childhood or later in life. Characters burst into song on screen repeatedly throughout the film, a device that’s enthralling and exciting, filling in some pieces of the narrative.

Young British actor Egerton has a delightful time stepping into the role of Elton, embracing his signature energy and style to offer a layered take on a well-known celebrity. Bell and Madden provide considerable support as the two most influential people in his life, usually supportive but also ready to challenge Elton’s notions about who he is and who he should be. For lovers of musicals and especially lovers of Elton, this film is likely to be a delight. Its costumes and art direction are indeed formidable, though there’s something that feels very expected about this production. It’s fun, to be sure, but doesn’t quite feel entirely like the all-encompassing celebration of Elton that it should be.

B

No comments: