Directed by Dexter Fletcher.
Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Steven Mackintosh, Gemma Jones, Stephen Graham, and Tate Donovan.
Based on the early life of legend Sir Elton John, this compellingly, uplifting musical biopic, starring Taron “The Kingsman” Egerton, charts key moments during his meteoric rise, melancholic fall, and momentous comeback.
From its opening scene Dexter Fletcher’s dazzling and emotive fantasy hooks you like one of Elton’s many classics; bursting through the door in full flamboyance, we see that instantly recognisable icon, then a beat later the broken soul behind this brilliant showman is cleverly unveiled.
Taron gives his all as the glam bespeckled superstar, singing with passion and conviction and sharing every beat of Elton’s unique heart, from the frenetic pace of his effervescent performances to the slow unvarnished agony of his many inner demons.
Rocketman displays that under the sparkles, diva theatrics, celebrity tantrums, and tiaras, Elton Hercules John is a gifted individual, with a core of profound loneliness and a desperate need to be truly loved.
Understandably stemming from deep wounds in childhood as Reginald Dwight, the unwanted scapegoat of his distant, uncaring and ill-matched parents Sheila and Stanley, Bryce Dallas Howard and Steven Mackintosh are respectively outstanding as his self absorbed, and verbally abusive mother and harsh, repressed, disinterested, music-loving father.
Mercifully young Dwight, played by adorably talented, Matthew Illesley and Kit Conner does have love and support in his formative years from grandmother Ivy, Gemma Jones is on top form, and the scenes between these characters are so warm and nurturing, as Ivy notices his prodigious musical talent and helps him pursue his destiny.
There are moments where young Dwight’s struggle feels reminiscent of ballet drama Billy Elliot which debuted way back in 2000, this is understandable as Lee Hall wrote both films and even collaborated with composer Elton when Billy’s story was turned into a multi award-winning stage musical in 2005.
Another connection to Billy Elliot is a then-unknown Jamie Bell, who in 1999 was chosen out of 2,000 boys to play the title role at just 11 years old. Jamie is sensational and generous in this film giving Elton gentle direction and devotion as long term lyricist and “brother” Bernie Taupin.
The harmonious relationship between these two partners in rhyme was essential to the believability of the whole story, thankfully Taron and Jamie’s connection is utterly convincing from the start, as Bernie provides those timeless lyrics, that would go on to touch the hearts of millions for over half a century.
Mr. Taupin stays true and steadfast to his best friend, giving him the courage to step into the limelight and find his voice, sharing in their mutual highs of the hedonistic ’70s, then trying to stay connected during those spiraling lows, as the heartbreaking ravages of fame and addiction consume.
Along with witnessing the fallout from his brutal romance with abusive manager John Reid, whose cruel manipulation and unrelenting professional demands almost destroy the crumbling singer, Reid, seductive and chillingly delivered by Game of Thrones star Richard Madden, was previously portrayed by fellow GoT star Aidan Gillen in Bohemian Rhapsody, the Oscar-winning biopic (partly directed by Fletcher) about the life of late great Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.
While no biography can ever be 100% accurate Rocketman’s script is multi-layered, refreshingly open and terrifically tender, and even though the movie is two hours long it’s exceptionally well paced – whilst covering many years it never feels too rushed or sluggish.
Every musical number is varied, exciting and organically woven into the story to maximum effect, even adapting certain lyrics to highlight the narrative. I Want Love, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road are particularly powerful, so with the structure, score, and amazing choreography already created, it can only be a matter of time until the curtain rises on the stage version of this inspirational story.
While every element of this enchanting film combines like a fine orchestra, it cannot be overemphasized that Dexter’s imaginative direction is simply spectacular. The musical numbers are glorious (blasting off, underwater, revolving piano montage), and the visible stripping of Elton’s vivid persona during group therapy, is handled with such intuition and skill by the Sunshine on Leith director, that it at times leaves you spellbound.
Co-produced by Elton’s company Rocket Pictures and husband David Furnish, Rocketman, just like the global megastar has been through many hurdles the past two decades, as it struggled to find its way to the big screen. Thankfully like Elton, it never gave up, and now we can all be reminded of he and Bernie’s magical songs and swept away by Fletcher’s enchanting movie.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Laura Jorden is a freelance journalist, creative writer, and fashion jewellery designer.