On the Scene 6/14: Taron Egerton gives unworldly performance in ‘Rocketman’

“For my next trick, I am going to f—ing kill myself.”

These were the words announced by Taron Egerton as Elton John after swallowing a handful of Prozac, chasing them with a cocktail, and falling off of the diving board into his swimming pool.

This was just one of many powerful examples we saw from Egerton in a performance that will surely earn him some recognition from The Academy of Arts and Sciences come Oscar season.

“Rocketman,” a biopic about the life of Elton John starting from the time he was a boy and following him as he earned his success and fame through a path filled with drugs and depression, was not customary in the sense of biopics.

Unlike “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which was a traditional biopic following the story of Freddy Mercury and the band Queen that released this past fall, “Rocketman” was a musical. Though it may seem as if the concept wouldn’t work, the direction the film went in was superb.

Constantly going back and forth between his present self and himself as a child, John lived a life full of depression, despite his worldwide fame. Constantly feeling as if he would never be truly loved by anyone in his life, John sought refuge in drugs and alcohol.

Dealing with his homosexuality in a time of nonacceptance, John looked for love from anyone. Never getting it from his father, who walked out on the family when he was just a boy and eventually starting a new family, John never had a paternal figure.

His mother, who raised him with the help of her own mother, felt that he was never good enough because of his sexuality.

Because “Rocketman” was released now, less than a year after the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the two will obviously be compared to each other. But I can assure all readers, “Rocketman” completely blew “Bohemian Rhapsody” out of the water.

Personally, I have always been a fan of Queen and I did love the movie, but other than knowing the hit singles from Elton John, I didn’t know much about the man other than the fact that Lady Gaga is the godmother to his two sons. So, going into the film, I was hoping to learn more about John and his life.

The film begins with John checking himself into a rehab facility after having done “every drug known to man.” Through his time in rehab, John reflects back on his own life with a support group and shares how he has gotten to where he is now. Sitting there in costume, dressed as a demon – complete with wings and horns – his attire reflected his own demons that he has been dealing with his entire life. Throughout the film, we see John continue to take off parts of his costume, stripping away each personal demon piece by piece. By the end, John needs a bathrobe to cover his stark body after ripping everything away and finally coming to peace with himself.

Coming out of the film, I was completely blown away. The performance that Egerton gave was remarkable. Wearing every single emotion on his sleeve, not only was he like John, he completely embodied him.

Though it has been a few months since the Academy Awards, I am still not over the fact that Rami Malek won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, because for the entire film Malek was lip-syncing! How The Academy could recognize a performance that wasn’t even a true performance is beyond me.

But Egerton, who actually sang in the film, has a beautiful voice that will surely earn him at least a nomination next year, if not win the award, barring a performance better than his.

“Rocketman” is the first film of 2019 that is sure to be recognized by The Academy. We will just have to wait to see what the future months entail for the next ones.

 

Ken Downey Jr. is the Features Editor for Time OFF and Packet Publications. This is a part of his series of weekly columns focusing on arts and entertainment. He can be contacted at kdowney@newspapermediagroup.com.