The Pride continues with my review of Rocketman! The good? the bad? More like the good and the meh. Let’s get into it.
Taron Egerton: I have seen this guy in a couple movies and have thought, ok, he’s a good actor but haven’t really been wowed by any performance. Until now…
Not only is he a handsome devil and a talented actor, but the DUDE can SING. Holy F#$^#. It’s one of those things that just makes you think, “so he’s a triple threat and some of us here are just trying to heat up some old chicken and remember to drink enough water?” Not fair. NOT. FAIR.
His performance in this movie is fantastic across the board. Is it oscar worthy? I’m not sure, but I know we’ll hear from him to some capacity during award season. I feel this movie would have done better had it come out closer towards the end of the year to be fresh on the mind, but here we are.
I still do preach that Hollywood NEEDS to let gay stories be told by gay talent; I say this especially for a case like this film that is based on a HUGE gay icon. I think it’s also worth noting the fact that straight actors are often glorified for portraying a gay person and gay actors are rarely given the chance to step into big shoes at all. Just saying…
(Some) of the Performances: I am not well versed on all of Elton John’s music, but like anyone with a pulse I know my fair share. Some of the performances were fantastic. One in particular that actually choked me up was Taron singing (my favorite) “Your Song.”
Not only is it one of the most BEAUTIFUL love songs EVER but the context of the scene is so powerful; Elton is there on the piano looking to his best friend Bernie (Jamie Bell) and almost singing this song to him. To see a famous ballad being sung from one man to another had a powerful impact. It’s not even really romantic! Bernie and Elton establish that their relationship can’t go that way. Elton understands, but I think knowing he can’t have Bernie and seeing his friend practice love and relationships freely in a way that he can’t makes him feel left behind. That’s very true to the gay experience!
The context was similar for when Elton performs “Tiny Dancer.” Gay or straight, we have felt that moment; when the one we can’t have is off exploring happiness somewhere you are not. UGH. perfect.
Different Shades of Rejection: We have seen parents come outright and say they don’t love their gay kids or disown them. We have seen them say they accept their kids no matter what. What Rocketman did so wonderfully was show two parents who did neither but still broke their son’s heart.
We have Elton’s father who went and made another family he actually gave affection to. As Elton goes to visit we see his father is open and expressive of how his new sons are proud of him, but there is a distance. He unapologetically doesn’t care about Elton. He treats him like a celebrity and nothing more. It felt very much, “your life is yours and what you’re doing with it is your business. I don’t care either way.”
Rejection can be heartbreaking. Anger or hatred can be hurtful. Yet, I have often said total neglect and dismissal can be more destructive because at least with hatred there’s an intensity of something. What could Elton do with that situation he walked into? It was disarming as much as it was soul killing.
There was a similar situation with his mother. He tells her he’s gay and she tells him what most would want to hear; It’s fine by me! But then comes her dagger…
“You will never be properly loved.” Just like that, this film once again touches a real piece of the gay experience. Well, a real terror; that despite accepting ourselves and those closest to us not minding, there will never actually be sanctuary and home. We will just float amongst those who are allowed normalcy and family.
The Ending: The ending is just a big tip of the hat to mental health and the road to getting there. As ghosts from Elton’s past and present step onto the scene he finally does the thing he should have done a long time before- let go. He says it himself, “I have spent so much time feeling resentful for things that just don’t matter.”
At the risk of sounding preachy, we are responsible for ourselves. It does not matter what our mother’s did or our father’s did not do. We are responsible. Elton takes that control at the end of the movie and it’s powerful to see. It’s powerful and uplifting to see a gay man put his foot down and say what he is and is not going to allow around him.
The scene concludes on the perfect note with the young Reggie asking Elton what he himself once asked his father, “When are you going to hug me?” It works so wonderfully because that’s it isn’t it?
After a certain checkpoint whether you want to or not you have to take charge of your well being. Are you brave enough to give yourself the love you didn’t get as a child? Elton proved he was.
Wait, it’s over?: I was a little taken aback when the film ended! I know it was already about two hours, but I was hoping to see him really put to practice his change of heart. I wanted to see him be loved properly! Yet, I suppose that was not the point of the film.
I Feel We Saw This Movie…: At no fault of this movie but rather it’s timing, this feels an awful lot like Bohemian Rhapsody. Yes, this one is a real musical that creates enough distance from the other, but there are A LOT of similar beats. Gay musical icon, family issues, self esteem problems, drug and sex abuse, meeting a gay manager that whispers sweet nothings in your ear to ruin your life… It’s not a critique of the film! Just a bummer that another (oscar winning) film with a similar concept came out not too long ago.
I give Rocketman a 4 out of 5 potatoes