A review of the new film “Rocketman”

Inevitably, this bio-pic of British singer/songwriter Elton John will be compared with “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the film about British rock group Queen, since both were directed by Dexter Fletcher and they were released with less than a year between them. But Dexter only worked on “Bohemian Rhapsody” for three weeks, following the firing of Bryan Singe,r whereas this time he was in control for the whole project. Also, following an inventive script from Lee Hall (who wrote “Billy Liar”), Fletcher here gives us an altogether less conventional treatment with frequent bouts of fantasy which works surprisngly well.

In an interview with “Empire” magazine, Fletcher stated: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was a film with music in it. This is a musical.” Or, as Elton John wrote in a piece for the “Observer” newspaper: “the point of it … was to make something that was like my life: chaotic, funny, mad, horrible, brilliant and dark. It’s obviously not all true, but it’s the truth.”

The lead role is taken by Taron Egerton, who has come a long way since his roles in the “Kingsmen” movies, and this talented actor, who represents the singer from age 17 to 42, not only looks the part with the famous gap-teeth and outlandish costumes and glasses, he actually sings all the songs (another difference in production from “Bohemian Rhapsody”). Other important and contrasting roles are EJ’s kindly and understanding lyricist Bernie Taupin and his first male lover and manipulative manager Alex Reid, portrayed respectively by Jamies Bell and James Madden.

Since Elton John himself was a producer and his husband David Farnish was an excutive producer, there is nothing here that the singer does not want us to see, but – again as distinct from “Bohemian Rhapsody” – we are shown John’s abuse of drink and drugs, his homosexually, and his ego and anger.

Of course, the songs are wonderful and the performances suitably flamboyant. But the film does not feature my favourite EJ work: “Song For Guy”.


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