Some people are born talented but lack the passion to act on it. Others have the passion and yet they must work extremely hard to see even a glimmer of success. Some may not even realise that they have a gift, and then there are a rare few who have both the talent and the passion to go far, but they struggle, forced to face a plethora of obstacles on their way to transforming what was once seen as a naïve dream into a fantastical reality. The latter can be used to describe the heart-wrenching story of one of the world’s most loved artists: Elton John. Director Dexter Fletcher delivers the singer-songwriter’s seemingly long-overdue biopic to the big screen in a fashion of truthful whimsicality, incorporating the songs audiences know and love as a way to travel through time and space. Joined by an all-star cast, one cannot help but wonder whether Fletcher’s final product will be given the recognition and the love it deserves; a theme that defines the esteemed artist’s remarkable (though shaky) ascent into stardom.
Taron Egerton stars as Elton John, born Reggie Dwight, to a family who is anything but supportive; his mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard) constantly makes it known how inconvenient it is for her to raise a child what with all her responsibilities of watching TV, flipping through magazines and cheating on her husband. Elton’s father (Steven Mackintosh) only adds another layer of drama to the mix with his extremely detached and disapproving parenting style. Despite his lack of familial love, however, young Reggie is a talented piano player and winds up studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he thrives.
Years later, he’s playing shows at local bars in a band, still holding on to his childhood dream of being a rockstar. But every once in a while, a single opportunity falls into our laps. That being said, Reggie finds a home for his music under the direction of manager Ray Williams and his boss, music producer Dick James. After he is tasked with penning a handful of songs, Reggie – now living and working under the name Elton Hercules John – soon meets Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). The two develop a special relationship and take the music and entertainment world by storm in a matter of months, with Taupin writing the lyrics and Elton crafting the melody to compliment them. While in LA for a series of concerts, Elton meets John Reid (Richard Madden), American based music manager whom he is instantly attracted to. But million-dollar cheques, top-rated albums and screaming fans aren’t enough to keep one happy, regardless of the façade they showcase on stage. Elton has been fighting to come to terms with his sexuality, fighting to earn the admiration of his callous parents and fighting to find a source of love that he desperately wants but is unsure if he deserves. Sometimes, the realisation of what is best for us may come too late.
Rocketman is a beautiful, angst-filled, treasure of a film that encourages you to jump up and dance as much as it elicits tears of both triumph and sadness. The costume design is colourful and ostentatious much like Elton John himself, and his beloved songs – which are skilfully sung by the main actors – lend themselves perfectly to not only the soundtrack but to the very soul of the piece, illustrating Elton’s personal battles better than any piece of dialogue or location could. Actors Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell are an irresistible pair, displaying an ease and heart-warming chemistry whenever they’re on screen together.
Not only does Elton John’s story resonate with those who have grown up alongside him, but with newer generations as well. The path to happiness is a convoluted one, littered with walls that appear too high to scale, valleys too deep to swim and shadows far darker than we could ever imagine. Though it may appear more often than not that we are destined for misery, the first step in overcoming anything is accepting ourselves. It is okay to ask for help and, metaphorically speaking, just give our younger, innocent, idealistic self the hug that they need. Elton John’s music and his past remind us of this.
After all, it seldom happens that an artist’s greatest achievement (anyone’s greatest achievement for that matter) is the one that would make our younger self, the one forever living inside us, proud.
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Literature student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), but Canada. She’s deeply in love with popcorn, French fries and chicken mcnuggets. When’s she’s not chugging back on tea, you can most likely find her at the cinema or tucked away in the corner of a bookstore. Her favorite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, Casino Royale and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95