Rocketman is playing now in cinemas nationwide.
Fresh from rescuing the Freddie Mercury and Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody after the removal of its director Bryan Singer. Dexter Fletcher brings us the fabulous and utterly compelling Rocketman. From its opening scenes, Rocketman is layered with the joy, artistry and darker moments of Elton John’s life and career, and while the timeline is fast and loose, it wears its heart on its sleeve.
Playing alongside Elton John’s stunning back catalogue of music and moments, we are treated to a journey of joy, creativity, despair, challenge and confusion as the young Reggie Dwight slowly transforms into a musical legend. The musical numbers performed brilliantly by Taron Egerton creatively dovetail key moments in Elton’s life and career through a fantasia of glorious set pieces and sound. Unlike 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman is not solely dependent on one showstopping set-piece performance as it weaves its set piece after set piece into a genuinely engaging narrative arc.
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Performances are stunning, with Taron Egerton offering a genuinely electrifying and nuanced portrait of Elton that plays with the personal and public persona of a man who electrified the 70s and 80s music scene. However, Rocketman reaches for the stars in its discussions on hidden sexuality, career pressure and a music industry scared of the word ‘gay’. Here Fletcher’s movie explores the challenges of Elton’s secretive gay life in a music industry built on public approval and heteronormativity. Never is this more powerful than in Elton’s volatile relationship with John Reid (Richard Madden). Here we find the explosive effect of power, money, and social control in celebrity gay relationships pulled into focus, and while we may think this is a thing of the past, we all know it’s not.
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But Rocketman isn’t just about Elton, for this is also the story of Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), the man who brought the lyrics to Elton’s tunes. Without Taupin, there would be no Elton John, and thankfully Rocketman understands this and reflects on the critical role Bernie played in Elton’s music and career. The result is a joyous rollercoaster of music, stunning cinematography and electric performances that take you beyond the standard rock biopic with a genuinely creative portrait of a living legend.
Director: Dexter Fletcher