Growing up as a kid in the 1970s, to me, Elton John was one of those giant pop icons, that basically every boy and girl had heard of, but not necessarily heard the music of. Yes, Crocodile Rock´s simple appearance as a 50s pastiche, had probably cracked through the airwaves from Radio Luxemburg and entered your ears. But did you actually take time and delve into Elton John´s impressive output of the classic era from 1970 to 1975? No?
Then you are probably a bit like me, who only in a mature age went there - just to discover what I had overlooked, mainly due to prejudice and preconcecptions of John being a sugary pop artist not worthy of serious conciderations. Consider this your intervention then and let me outright tell you not to write of this movie off, "just" because of your musical preferences. It has a lot of things to offer.
The case of Elton John, despite what people may think of his rock star antics and abuses, is quite unique. He was a lonely boy growing up in a dreary and loveless lower, british middleclass family, attending regular pianolessons from established academies, and from there transformed himself into, probably the best pop artist of the first half of the seventies. This is a story of the most unlikely sorts and just from that alone, a worthy "excuse" for portraying it in a movie.
Elton John´s case is also unique from the point of the partneship with his partner "in crime", Bernie Taupin, who wrote most of the lyrics to his songs and an absolutely decisive aspect of the success of the creativity that resulted, particularly in the classic peri 70-75.
Bernie h had a particularly ambivalent and at times quite brutally passive aggressive style of songwriting, mostly about his own experience with his partnership with "The captain", Elton John, and his at times almost manic-depressive behavior and impossible relatio with lovers, bandmates and family.y.
Being a bit of a Elton fan myself, did know a lot t of details about the timefra in which the momov is taking plalace and I was not disappointed. T chronology and t the plot twists are all basically correct and only adjusted to fit pace and overall storyline.
The movie does take a bold stance from the start. It does not follow your average semi-documentac biopic, but chohooses instead to create an artiic whole, that brbrings it all into united cohesive story all revolving around theusic and Elton´s downward spiralling emotional well. Add t to that, the songs are placed in the story and plot line so that the lyrics fit to them, at times frightengly well, rather than in their respective chronology. A song like "I want Love" was written in the 2000s while used to portray his childhood in the 50s. And it makes perfectly sense.
I was a bit surprised at the start fearing that the actors beginning to sing, would turn it all into a crappy sentimental slapstk a la "Mamma Miaia" or what is worse. But my fears were completely unfounded.
Instead I was surprised to actually have a feang of relief and settled back inin my theatre chair and just let myself absorb the music and the story. I very early felt, that I was in good nds and abobout to be both entertained ampressed.
Like Forman does in Amadeus, we get the story told from the point of view of one “protagonist”. In this case it is the center character himself that presents his version, while in Amadeus it is his enemy. This allows for some extra freedom, since it is a subjective version of the story, and not an “objective” documentary. It works well here just as it did in Amadeus.
I will try not to reveal too much of the ructurte and the choreography as it still runs in theatres, but itit is safe to say that it very well crafted. It manages bring both the music, the back story of Elton and Bernie and how they rose to fame, Eltons emotionally destructive family and love raltionsships, his drug and alcohol abuse and more in a both an engagingng and entertaining whole. This is quite unparalleled as far as I am concerned, and deserves a lot of praise for achieving this. It is NOT easy to do this, as dozens of lousy biopics in history will point out to you.
There are solid acting performance everywhere, no weaknesses. But special mention has to go to Taron Egerton, who plays Elton. He is very impressive and most of the runtime of the movie, nails the behavior and voice of Elton so well it is quite astounding. Not all lookof Elton, hits pepeect home, but it t is very close, a adding Taron´s a ability to both act and sing like Elton, deserves him the highesaise.
I would have liked some more details on Bernie, as his role artistically is very important and the “this is a picture of the real dude now” closing edits, is so annoying. Pleeease let the memory of the actor’s interpretation stand alone.
This is is a movie for music lovers and those who like artistic liberty and at times outright expressionist methods to bring out emotiol depths, that cacan not be expressedtherwise, if theyey need to be entertaining at the same time. My very good recommendations.