Out of all the movies I know that are being released this year – including my beloved slew of Disney ones – this is my most eagerly awaited release.
I love anything to do with music and especially love a biopic, add to that my slight obsession with Taron Egerton and you’ve basically got my dream movie…
I’ve watched this twice already.
It’s not strictly a straight forward biographical movie of Elton, sure it tells his story but its a bit more fantastical that your average true story. It uses his songs to tell his story in the colourful flamboyant way you would expect from him.
The format is clever having Elton tell his story chronologically in group therapy during his time in rehab and we follow him from a small child up until the late 80s/early 90s.
On first viewing I wasn’t sure what I thought of this. I found it a bit slow to start and although visually I loved it I wasn’t sucked in by the story. However on second viewing I came away with a totally different opinion.
There is no doubt that Elton John is an incredible musician. Even if you’re not the biggest fan you can appreciate that he is a phenomenal piano player, entertainer and singer. He’s sold millions of records worldwide and is one of the most loved British acts of all time. However to many he’s not a person that they necessarily like much, especially if you’ve seen ‘Tantrums and Tiaras’. He’s well known for being difficult, argumentative and a bit of a Diva.
I’m not sure if this movie will change the opinion of those people but I think it will go a long way to understanding him as a person.
It focuses a lot on his relationship with his incredibly toxic parents. Seeing some of the scenes between him and his Mum – played incredibly by Bryce Dallas Howard who is almost unrecognizable as she ages throughout it – were actually incredibly moving and as Elton is still here to be able to watch this movie it must have been a really hard thing for him to actually sit through. I ended up hating her character. His Father was equally awful there’s a heartbreaking scene where he visits him with his ‘new’ family and he’s just treated like ‘Elton’ and not Reggie.
It’s not a fun movie. Yeah there’s singing and dancing and outrageous outfits but its essentially a drama about family struggles, bad relationships and addiction.
Eltons tumultuous relationship with sometime manager John Reid is documented in detail and shows the darker side of the business of music. John is played by The Bodyguards Richard Madden, playing a bad guy for a change and doing a really good job. I actually hated watching him on screen he was an awful character.
Amoungst all this abuse and sadness there is one little beacon of light and that is his relationship with lifelong song-writing partner and ‘brother’ Bernie Taupin. Jamie Bell was perfect for this role and they had real chemistry on screen. The love they have for each other really shone through and it was such a lovely thing to watch in the midst of all the heartache through the movie. You can see how much of an important part he’s played in the career and life of Elton and what a wonderful man and incredibly talented writer he is.
One of my favourite scenes in the movie is the performance of ‘Your Song’, it’s beautiful. I’d like to think that the way you see it is the way it happened.
The other incredible thing about this movie is Taron. He is absolutely outstanding. The fact he actually sings in this – all the cast do – is a stark difference to the dubbing of Rami Malik in Bohemian Rhapsody. And he’s an incredible singer. Some of the performances gave me goosebumps, he’s that good.
He looks like Elton as well. A lot. Which is bizarre being as they look nothing like each other in real life and there was no prosthetics involved. Just outfits and I think possibly some veneers.. There’s parts of this film where you genuinely can’t decide if you’re watching an old video of Elton or Taron.
This movie really shows how much of a versatile actor he is. He must portray every single emotion you can imagine and he does it with such ease. There is Oscar buzz with this film and he really deserves it.
I have to mention Kit Connor who plays teen Elton, he was wonderful, Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting was so good! He nailed that performance and he’s a great little actor.
So, what didn’t I like about it?
I would have liked to have seen it come full circle to how he is now, how he overcame all the drugs and turned his life around. I would also have liked to see a little more of Renate in this as it seemed she was a small part in his life, the duet between Taron and Celinde Schoenmaker was one of my favourite songs in the film, I don’t know if it was more of Renate I wanted to see or more of Celinde. I feel there was more that could be included, I’d be interested to see if there’s a directors cut on DVD release. Maybe there will be a follow up who knows?
All in all, I really enjoyed this film.
It reminds me of Tommy as there are parts of it that make NO sense. Some of the song and dance routines are a little out of context with whats going on in the film but then that’s the fantasy element.
It’s interesting, emotional and hard-hitting. A must-see for music fans.