Rocketman (Review)

Fresh from rescuing the Freddie Mercury and Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody after the removal of its director Bryan Singer. Dexter Fletcher brings us the glowing, fabulous and utterly compelling Rocketman. Bringing to life the career of Elton John with stunning cinematography, performances and energy. In a pure fantasia of music, creativity and emotion.

From its opening scenes Rocketman isn’t afraid to directly address the drugs, alcohol and sex that led Elton to rehab. And while some timelines are played with in a fast and loose fashion. It wears it heart on its sleeve from the first scene to the last.

There are moments in a rock star’s life that define who he is. Where there is darkness, there is now you, and it’s going to be a wild ride

John Reid (Richard Madden)

This is Elton John at his most flamboyant, vulnerable and honest. With his stunning back catalogue of music woven into key moments of joy, despair and change. Taking us from the young Reggie Dwight, born into a dysfunctional family in Middlesex. To the glittering excesses, joy and risks of global stardom. While using its stunning cinematography to convey the highs and lows of a life lived in the glare of public attention.

Meanwhile, musical numbers are creatively dovetailed into the key narrative of each scene. With the resulting aesthetic of gleaming west end show. While equally maintaining the fantasia of the overarching film.

Unlike 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody, this is a film that has every intention of creatively playing with the life story of its subject. Providing a unique vision of a man who survived the darker side of fame, while finding himself in the process.

Performances are truly stunning with Taron Egerton giving an electrifying and nuanced portrait of Elton John. Egerton playing with the interface between the personal and public persona of Elton impeccably. While embracing the music and showmanship of both the public and private man. This is a performance that not only plays homage to Elton John, but also highlights the skill and presence of Egerton as a leading light in modern British cinema. His performance coupled with an ensemble cast who add gravitas and emotion. Allowing Rocketman to soar in its creativity while never falling into mimicry.

However, almost as important as the music and love at its heart. Sexuality sits front and centre, with the film never attempting to ‘straight’ wash the life of Elton John. While in turn exploring the challenges of gay life in a music industry built on public denial. The relationship between Elton (Egerton) and John Reid (Madden) full of the explosive effects power, money and control had in so many of the secretive gay relationships of 70’s and 80’s public life.

And finally Rocketman never seeks to dismiss the importance of Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) in the career of Elton John. His lyrics and partnership a cornerstone of Elton’s success. While also providing private support that helped the star reclaim his life from addiction in the 1990’s.

Rocketman is a rollercoaster of music, stunning visuals and electric performances. That takes you beyond the usual rock biopic, providing a truly creative portrait of a British music legend.

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Cast: Taron EgertonJamie BellRichard Madden