An exasperated Elton John, nearing the end of a 108-show tour, looks into the camera of his companion of four years, David Furnish, and laments the idea of another interview. “How does Mrs. Jagger do it?” he asks as his orange strands of hair are being placed just so. “He’ll talk to a wildebeest.”
It’s an indicator of John’s constant desire for privacy, perhaps the strongest thread running through the cinema verite “Tiaras & Tantrums.” Furnish, whom John has given unprecedented access, has crafted an expert document of the musician’s private side, at home in England and Atlanta, on vacation in the South of France and behind the scenes on the road. Best segment might well be the pre-Oscar build-up, in which Furnish deftly brings the audience through John’s jitters, cattiness, exuberance and sorrow at a brisk pace.
John is shown rolling through a load of contradictory moods — he craves alone time, for example, yet is unable to function without a staff of a half-dozen — driven by compulsions that have manifested themselves differently over the years. Current obsessions: clothes, spending. “Tiaras” in the title refers to two headpieces that are part of the traveling wardrobe — they sit atop chests of drawers filled with eyewear inside a closet packed with an extraordinary amount of clothes and shoes.
“Tantrums” was shot during early 1996, starting with a video shoot for his single “Believe.” John’s seen on a promotional tour through Paris and Madrid, in the studio with Lulu. Interviews with mom, his personal assistant, therapist and hairdresser, along with comments and leading questions from Furnish, flesh out this portrait.
Pic is the first work from John and Furnish’s Rocket Pictures, which has 10 projects in development with Disney. Timing of the docu’s release precedes release of the next John disc, “The Big Picture,” and U.S. tour this fall.
Concert footage is top notch; the rest is homevideo at its best. Editing is superb.