I started Pride month by going to see Rocketman. I went to see it because I love Elton John, I love Taron Egerton and I love we have Pride month and not even Cheeto doing anti-LGBTQ shit is gonna fuck up my vibe. So yes. I did that. Now, you know that I am not exactly Roger Ebert and that my review is going to be bonkers. But if you are in my blog you don't give a shit about that, do you? So here you go.
First things first: IMHO Rocketman is better than Bohemian Rhapsody. In BR I felt the gay was always under control. The focus was on some kind of accuracy in the legacy of Queen they wanted to achieve. The main gay character was used as a plot device and then that was that. They even made people think that Freddy was 'bi'. Something to placate the straights that find gay sex icky, I guess. Rocketman is gay. No straightwashing there. And I enjoyed it much better. The movie is not perfect, the Rotten Tomatoes critics will tell you. And I don't even know what that means. What is it that makes a movie perfect? That it moves you? That the art direction is flawless? That the characters speak to you? That the music makes you wanna dance AND sing? That you love the star? So then this movie was perfect. For me.
Oh, it's an Elton John biopic so you have the usual flashbacks, the fantastic year-appropriate costumes and the toe-tapping music numbers. But here Taron actually sings the songs. Oh, you didn't know he sings? He does. He has actually sang before in a movie. Yep. he did that. And that adds a layer to the movie that makes it feel much... warmer? He also gives an excellent performance. Sometimes you forget he's NOT Elton. Also, this movie is not structured as a classic music biopic. It's more a cross between a musical and a play. I have no idea if that makes sense but that's how I saw it. I felt it tapped into the fantasy world of the artist and it made it more organic. It was an insight into the creative process. Also, the songs in the movie are not chronological. Instead, they follow and enrich the narrative of the story told in the movie. Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell being an absolute darling) was definitely on to something.
And there's the gay stuff. I also enjoyed that. Seeing Taron in short shorts and getting it on with Richard Madden did it for me. Instant chub. The movie is about a gay man and is produced by a gay man. The gay stuff is there and I was there for it. But the movie is not about Elton being gay. It's about Elton being a musician. And also about him trying every drug under the sun and whoring it out and being a dick, because that's what happens when you're 23 and are a world-famous closeted rock star with truckloads of money. In the movie, we see that Elton was a jerk at times and that's probably true. This is movie about a living (gay) rock star who had a hand on making this movie, not a movie about a dead rock star whose story is told through the eyes of the (straight) people who knew him. And it shows.
In the end, I think the movie does have a love story: Elton and Bernie. Singer and songwriter. Straight and gay. But no gay-for-pay bullshit here. It's a love letter to friendship, and the durable effect that loving someone (warts and all) has. There were two scenes that really gave me the feels: one where Bernie gives Elton the lyrics for 'Your Song' and he goes downstairs to the piano and cranks it up on the spot. The other one is when Elton reaches a breaking point after his horrible, terrible no good manager played by Richard Madden (who is insanely handsome and who definitely is a dick) shows him how little he cares about him and the weight of all those drugs hit. He dives head first in the pool and then he literally hits rock bottom and finds his younger self there and they duet Rocketman. I got goosebumps. Because I like movies that make me feel things. And this one did.
So there, it's up to you now. If I could, I go see it (again) with you. But it may not be possible. For whatever reasons. So go see it and then come back and tell me what you think. Did you love it? Did you loathe it? Let's have a convo. And yes, I would still let Taron push me against a wall and fuck the hell out of me. In or out of costume.