benschmidt’s review published on Letterboxd:
This thing tricked me for about 10-15 minutes that it could break the formula of the music biopic, with the AA meeting framing device as an interior manifestation of self-reflection, the visual trickery of the little kid in bed by flashlight conducting an orchestra that's not there and then boom there they are, setting up a combo of really taking the person at the core seriously while establishing a visual language of what music really means to him. But then it all comes crashing down trope by trope, the unconvinced music producer, the success montage, the just-skimmed-over-the-surface glance at all of his major relationships, the quick and tidy pain origin story. The slight fresh bit it does present, the musical number renditions of the songs, are either painfully on the nose ("Saturday Night") or so abstract and random that it's not clear how they correspond to the emotional part of the story we're at. The parts in between settle into cliches and it all becomes just as empty and hollow as any biopic that tries half as hard.
The biggest component of Elton that this totally blew was the working relationship with Bernie. They said they've never had an argument. Fine. Was there any insecurity of singing person's words? Jealousy from Bernie that he can't be the one who gets all the fawning admiration? Maybe no creative tension existed, but that seems unlikely. We get the tiniest bit almost at the very end, when he says that he can't walk down the street, or go to work it out with a notepad and pen. Shoehorned at the end. Weak.
- In the space of four minutes, he meets a woman in a studio, they sing a duet, they are married, they are divorced. They were married for four years.
- Taron Egerton is fine, good even. If Rami Malek's teeth gets an Oscar, well then, fuck, give Egerton a Lifetime Achievement Award.