Film Review: Rocketman
PUBLISHED: 12:42 28 May 2019
Mark Goodin reviews the Elton John biopic that’s rocketing to success
Stepping in to take up the directorial reins following the sudden departure of Bryan Singer, Dexter Fletcher helped save Bohemian Rhapsody from its productions woes, delivering an enjoyable albeit flawed soup-to-nuts biopic of Queen front man Freddie Mercury. For his latest feature however, Fletcher takes a far from conventional approach to his biographical musical of Elton John.
Opening in a rehabilitation clinic, a middle-aged Elton John (Taron Egerton) recalls his tumultuous progression from introverted musical prodigy to one of the most popular record artists in history.
Throughout this long, sprawling, always engaging journey, the director spices his film with a number of eye-popping, inventive and intelligently placed fantastical musical pieces to document the key moments in the artist's career without ever undermining or overshadowing the darker, more emotional elements of his personal life; his struggle with substance abuse, his turbulent relationship with his parents and acceptance of his sexuality are all handled with remarkable sensitivity.
It is Egerton who is the film's shining light, delivering a brilliant, sensitive, peacocking performance that makes it easy to forget the actor bears very little resemblance to the musician he is playing. There are some lovely supporting turns, too; Jamie Bell gives a measured, human performance as John's long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin and Richard Madden is on slimy, seductive form as music manager John Reid. These performances together with Fletcher's assured, confident, distinctive style make Rocketman an immensely fun treat of a film.