The biopic about the English pop star, just released at Cannes, is a fairytale cocktail of musical, friendship and excess. Let’s celebrate it in a riot of ink…
Anyone who truly cares about Sir Elton John (real name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight, 72 years old this year and 400 million records sold worldwide) knows that 1990 was a pivotal year in his artistic life, the season when his single “Sacrifice” stayed at number one in the British charts for six weeks straight.
That was the summer when the man behind “Your song”, “Crocodile rock” and “Candle in the wind” decided to sign himself into a renowned Chicago clinic (Parkside Lutheran Hospital) to detox for once and for all from the assorted alcohol and drug addictions which had been the bane of his life since the ‘70s.
The 1970s. That was the decade which saw the release of historic albums like “Madman Across The Water”, “Honky Château”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy”, to name but a few of the most famous. The historic phase in his career where Elton John, thanks to the success of his tours in the States, became a global megastar.
All of which Sir Elton recounted for the first time in his heartfelt memoir “Love is the cure” (penned by himself in 2012), about his commitment to the fight against AIDS through his Elton John Aids Foundation.
And this, his entrance into rehab decked out in feathers and sequins as if he were going onstage, is the starting point of the eagerly awaited “Rocketman”. Directed by Dexter Fletcher (anonymous director of “Bohemian Rhapsody”) presented out of competition at Cannes, highly acclaimed by even the most demanding critics, and telling the tale of a shy, chubby boy from Pinner (a London suburb), from childhood and his virtually non-existent relationship with his father, and how he became one of the major musical phenomena of the twentieth century.
This biopic definitely verges on being a musical (a stylistic element which sets it apart from the hyper-realism of “Bohemian Rhapsody” where everything hinged on the maniacal resemblance of Oscar winner Rami Malek toh the main character Freddie Mercury) , and Elton John is played by a marvellous Taron Egerton alongside Jamie Bell (who is fabulous as Bernie Taupin, his lyricist and fraternal friend) who many will remember in the role of the child prodigy dancer “Billy Elliot”.
Egerton and Bell are supported in turn by Bryce Dallas Howard (who, even though she is only 38 years old, plays the part of Sheila Eileen, the singer’s mother) and Richard Madden (well-known for his role as Robb Stark in “Game Of Thrones” who plays the slimy manager John Reid) who round off the brilliant cast.
There are plenty of memorable scenes in “Rocketman” (like the performance at the Troubadour in Los Angeles with Egerton/John levitating magically above the piano) and the music – obviously fantastic with Sir Elton’s songs skilfully performed by Taron Egerton – punctuating a storyline which, though not entirely true to life, is deeply moving and fuses talent, dreams, sin and redemption. In short, two hours of great, visionary cinema.
And for any sticklers for the truth out there who want some more true anecdotes about the high-flying career of Elton John, well, they will just have to wait until 15th October next for the official biography of the English singer (the long-awaited and simply titled “Me”) to appear in bookshops the world over.
It will be a must-read of 352 pages and the cherry on the cake of an Elton-themed year where Reg also happens to be on the road on his triumphal “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour”.