Rocketman (2019)

rocketman-03

Food: I went to meet a friend in the West Village and we wandered and found ourselves at Song E’ Napoli. I realized I had already been there before, so sorry to not have a new place to review, but I am excited to share that it was another delicious experience. We split the house red wine, and a margarita pizza. A casual and pleasant atmosphere with a friendly staff. 

Film: “Rocketman” (2019) is everything that “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018) should have been. I know that it is not completely fair to compare the two just because they are both biopics about iconic rockstars who shaped decades to follow and who were major influencers in the gay community. It is reductive to do so. But also, after Bryan Singer was fired, “Bohemian Rhapsody” brought in Dexter Fletcher to finish shooting and rescue the piece. This begs the question, if Fletcher had “Rhapsody” in his hands the entire time, would it had felt differently? Would it have been a fully fledged musical? Would it have leaned into its leads queerness? We will never know. But we do know that “Rocketman” did.

We are cleverly introduced to the film with a young Elton John strutting into rehab wearing an extravagant one piece suit with the wings of a Victoria Secret model. Through him answering the counselors questions about his parents, friends and past relationships, we get a series of flashbacks as the storytelling device for the film.

Elton John’s career takes off when he meets his best friend, Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), who writes the lyrics for most of his songs. A significant arc in the story occurs when he meets lover and new manager John Reid (Richard Madden). The film is not afraid to show that John embraced his gayness. He had relationships with men. In films the size of this one gay characters being physical with one another is often avoided. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for example, skirts around the fact, and puts more emphasis on his relationships with women than with men.

“Rocketman” is a musical and it is campy, dreamlike, lively and flashy. Any scene can include a sudden, unexpected break into song. It manages to embrace this element without it taking away from the grittiness or darkness of certain aspects of his life. If anything, it only helps to elevate those feelings even more.

I will admit, I am not typically a fan of biopics, and this, at the end of the day, is still that. At that, though, it is entertaining and it is difficult not to enjoy a 2 hour production that is laced with so many of Elton John’s recognizable music. This movie will leave you feeling good! It will leave you feeling inspired. However, it may not stick with you long after.

 

 

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