The post-Cannes hype is real and this film was a MUST SEE. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. This is director Dexter Fletcher’s (Sunshine on Leith, Eddie the Eagle) fourth debut and he sure has reached for the stars. The film had its first preview/premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this year and proved an instant hit with festival audiences and critics.
Rocketman is a crafty, creative take on Elton John’s early rockstar life. A feature that gives the audience a sense of the music industry at the time alongside the emotional turmoil and consequences that comes with it. Taron Egerton (Kingsman, Eddie the Eagle) plays Elton John in this musical bio-drama and is absolutely fantastic! He is completely believable and utterly incandescent in the role. Egerton stars alongside a gleaming cast consisting of; Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard and Gemma Jones. All which provide flawless support roles for Egerton and gives the movie real sustenance.
First of all, Taron Egerton is absolutely brilliant in this role and holds the audience in dream-like captivity from the start. His on-screen presence and stage charisma shines brightly throughout the entire feature. His capabilities range from portraying raw, series emotions to more energetic, cheeky and colourful motifs. We see him on screen almost immediately, entering the scene as Elton, as a fabulous, menacing, orange, flamingo devil.
The film takes us back as we recall tales from the past, starting with a young Elton as he is growing up in a rigid household with little or no encouragement from his mother or father. However, his genius like talents does not go unrecognised as he encounters Bernie Taupin, his music mogul and the brains behind those famous Elton lyrics we all know and love. From then on it is a fantastical musical theatre retelling of Elton’s breakthrough years. From meeting Bernie and making music to his debut at the Troubadour in Hollywood, meeting his long-term manager and boyfriend John Reid, his addictive star-infused lifestyle, that famous Dodger Stadium performance and ultimately, his acceptance of the addictions he has accumulated over the years.
The movie sort of ends early 80’s and we don’t get to see much else after the ‘I’m Still Standing’ music video. However, despite this halt in time, it is not too bothersome as what we have just witnessed was a mesmerising show of stunning performances, well-organised cinematic structure and an absolute theatrical delight, whether the story remains true to life or has been reimagined slightly for entertainment purposes.
There aren’t many grey areas which actually gives the film a more authentic touch. From reading/watching reviews and promo clips this was very much intentional and an incredibly important factor for the filmmakers. This movie contains some very serious themes; drug misuse, alcoholism, sexual addiction and mental health. Combined, this adds depth without unearthing and dissecting every single traumatic detail of Elton’s life. Rather, the film asks us to accept these matters for what they are and celebrate the fact that Elton John made it through his crazy, turbulent, rollercoaster early life and is in fact, still standing.
Rocketman was originally intended to be produced and distributed by Universal however, given its frisky risky content the deal would no longer be appropriate for the studio. Thus, giving Paramount the opportunity to take over theatrical distribution.
When I first watched the trailers for Rocketman I wasn’t sure what I was expecting? A musical, however, was not anywhere in my thought process at that point in time. It was actually a refreshing surprise, as I imagined it would have taken on a more serious role in reenacting all of Elton John’s life in a more deliberate manner.
There was also the showdown of the inevitable comparisons to Fletcher’s directorial stand-in saving: Bohemian Rhapsody. Nevertheless, this film shines bright and has enough backbone to stand alone in becoming an influential part of our history and cinematic history. The music absolutely drives the film and plays an enormous part in the narrative, whether you notice it or not. You will be singing ‘Rocketman’ and ‘Tiny Dancer’ for weeks!
Overall it is a film to get excited about! It definitely gets the Screen bunny seal of approval and a firm thumbs up. If you haven’t seen this movie then I would definitely be adding this to your itinerary this weekend.