Forever rocking the grand designs of his lavish stage attire. A seemingly imposing figure who has rarely been one to mince his words, yet underneath those glorious layers and whip-smart opinions a disarming vulnerability has shone through this particularly tender musical titan, whose impeccable delivery and craft of such timeless songs, has stolen the hearts of many a tiny and tall dancer.
Enlisting the help of a Kingsman who is reunited with a director who previously allowed him to fly high like an Eagle. Rocketman translates a remarkable music career into a fantastical odyssey, that will likely send fans into sweet delirium.
Trading those tailored suits for a costume that would make Hellboy want to take a day off. It’s the raw indulgence in the powerful demons that plagued Taron Egerton’s Elton John, that is the fuel that makes this biopic ascend into the stratosphere. Struggling for an emotional breakthrough at home, craving a mere slither of affection from his distant father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) and free-spirited mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard), with only his grandmother Ivy (Gemma Jones) a reliable source of encouragement.
It’s only in his musical breakthrough through the alchemy of working with tremendously talented songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) and taking the classic gamble of broadening his audience through the vast space of America, that we start to see Elton begin to shape his own persona and voice. Not without a fair share of trials and tribulations however, predominantly arriving in the form of devilishly handsome music manager and love interest John Reid (Richard Madden), who may just prevent John’s career from sticking the landing.
Well versed within this genre as he walked 500 miles for The Proclaimers on Sunshine On Leith, whilst probably feeling like he had to do double the mileage, navigating the controversy that engulfed Bohemian Rhapsody, director Dexter Fletcher is clearly relishing the lack of restraint or shackles on this occasion. Its jam-packed musical numbers are consistently infused with a wealth of enthusiasm and killer choreography, possessing a seamless flow and theatricality that wouldn’t look out of place on a West End stage. Its detours into fantasy only enhance the experience, creating a sense of magic and emotional charge that made me want to draw comparisons to Moulin Rouge.
An inevitable talking point, with suggestions of queer erasure or straight-washing striking before release, the refreshingly brutal honesty and ownership in how Rocketman depicts Elton’s sexuality is also a brilliant albeit much-belated leap in the right direction for such a mainstream offering, with the handling of its romance full of intimacy and the sheer level of acceptance on display, displayed best by Bell’s Taupin heartening.
Sticking with Bell, Jamie’s terrific portrayal of Bernie is the calming considered influence amongst the film’s outlandish and angst-filled tendencies, who rather fittingly is likely to be the unsung hero here. Elsewhere Richard Madden is superbly sinister as John Reid, a character full of malice who is undeterred in using his sex appeal to take advantage of John’s growing popularity.
A far cry from being an impersonation or a caricature, Taron Egerton delivers an astonishing full-bodied performance who is clearly in his element paying homage to this musical great, whether it be the display of sheer showmanship or searing emotion. The pain that lingers behind those eyes and spills into the delivery of its songs, you can’t help but hang off every lyric he utters. In one sequence, director Fletcher poignantly pans over the rainbow that dominates his hat and it is the perfect metaphor to beautifully display his character trajectory, both personally and professionally.
I Want Love say Elton? As far as I’m concerned, take it all because Rocketman is a soaring success that will have your toes tapping and the tears streaming. Spectacular.
Directed by: Dexter Fletcher
Cast: Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Stephen Graham
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