Every year a multitude of biographical films arrive in our cinemas, but there are still a minority of those that are really worthwhile because of the way they approach the real case they adapt. Rocketman is one of them. The film about Elton John's life came to Spanish cinemas last Friday without making as much noise as 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and it's a shame, because it's a much more inspired work.
Let's review the reasons why 'Rocketman' stands out above the average in biopics, making it one of the most stimulating films on the current billboard.
Most of the biopics of exalter to its protagonist and to obviate or to disguise of exaggerated form the most thorny aspects of its life. Sometimes it is the consequence of a superficial review to try to deal with all the great successes of their careers - and not necessarily of musical artists as 'Pelé, the birth of a nation' demonstrated - but in 'Rocketman' this problem is avoided by tackling both Elton John's homosexuality and his problems with drugs.
In fact, the film begins with the arrival of its protagonist at a meeting of alcoholics anonymous that will serve as a thread to review different stages of his life. An ingenious enough solution for him to show how his past has affected him to become the person he was then. Even he tries to sell a version for all the audiences of his life so as not to delay in discovering that everything was much more complicated.
From his father's lack of love, notably reinforced by the forced reunion as an adult, to his mother's disinterest, more concerned about endorsing him to her grandmother than anything else, there is no lack of notes on his innate talent for composition and the inevitable review of how some of his most celebrated themes came to light, but also how his personal life is sinking and he takes refuge in drugs and alcohol to move forward.
Elton John himself said that he had led such a life and that he did not want to do without anything. This detail is essential to offer a much more complete vision of his person, although later on everything related to his homosexuality there are countries that choose to censure him. It is praiseworthy that something like this should be treated so directly when Hollywood had shown remarkable resistance and hopefully not remain in an oasis in the desert.
Obviously, there have been more rugged details and the story behind the multitude of songs. It was impossible to cover everything in such a short time, but the film works very well with what is included. After all, it is a film, not a translation into images of his life. In fact, there are times when the film almost seems to disconnect a little from reality to better capture the magic of Elton John's talent. That's what you have to do and not opt for excessive exaltation like in 'Snowden'.
At the time I ended up delighted with the transformation of Rami Malek into Freddie Mercury, but my enthusiasm cooled as I went through scenes and discovered some tricks that were used in the songs. In 'Rocketman' it is preferred that the metamorphosis of Taron Egerton into Elton John be something inner. Yes, his hair changes a bit and he has his characteristic look, but the real achievement of the protagonist of 'Kingsman: Secret Service' is to become John on the inside.
The first thing Egerton conveys is that he has really understood who and how John was at that time, assimilating him at all times to the attitude he conveys to his interpretation. This is then translated into gestural reactions, where great boasts are dispensed with beyond the wardrobe to ensure that everything fits perfectly to its referent. And finally, Egerton embroiders the songs, and he is the one who really sings them. All a challenge to the height of very few.
A musical and not a biopic with songs
There were two preferred options when making a film like 'Rocketman'. On the one hand, a conventional biopic - how to tell it can weigh down a powerful story as in the case of 'The Red Spy' - with songs here and there to have the best-known themes, but you could also openly opt for the musical as the preferred genre, which is exactly what Dexter Fletcher does.
Here the songs serve in the majority of occasions to advance the plot instead of serving as a more or less memorable isolated fact. This allows Fletcher a very different work of staging to that of 'Bohemian Rhapsody', where he was the one who helped to finish the film after the "exit" of Bryan Singer.
Here that affects the structure of the film and its own visual style, making it clear that there is a greater impetus in all musical numbers, even when Egerton is not on stage and it is Kit Connor and Matthew Lesley who bring to life younger versions of John. However, it is as John gains confidence on stage when the musical side reaches another level and is also normalized within a more normalized plot progression.
Taron Egerton is the omnipresent protagonist and many things would have to be changed so that this would not be the case. On other occasions - I think of 'Joy' for example - this means that everything is at the service of the protagonist's personal lucidity - although in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' a Queen member also reserved his moment or moments in a somewhat improvable way - and the rest of the cast is neglected in a way that is difficult to justify.
In 'Rocketman' everything has been thought out for Egerton to give the best of itself, but that doesn't stop the supporting cast from leaving a certain impression, starting with their best friend played by Jamie Bell, passing through his despicable agent played by John Reid - quite different between the interpretation of Richard Madden here and that of Aidan Gillen in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by the same personage - and even his parents -Bryce Dallas Howard and Steven Mackintosh-, conveying perfectly how they have influenced John's personality.