Taron Egerton does a good intuition of the glamorous musician in this sucrose treatment, a by-the-numbers approach authorised by Elton himself
Dexter Fletcher’s rousingly good natured Rocketman is the authorised-version movie about the famed singer-songwriter Elton John: written by Lee Hall, produced by David Furnish and exec produced by the man himself. It’s had to follow the John Lewis Christmas TV ad that everyone desired, which delivered a very similar narrative in a miniaturised form; in fact there’s a moment here with Elton musingly picking out a single-finger tune that even appears to allude to that small-screen gem. Rocketman has also, in a manner that ensures, had the burden of resulting or living up to Elton John’s shocking anthems, the masterpieces which each seem like mini-movies in themselves- or at the very least the euphoric accompaniment to the most moving final montage you’ve ever seen.
Rocketman is a sucrose-enriched biopic-slash-jukebox-musical hybrid which sometimes feels like it should be on the Broadway or London West End stage- and very possibly will. Sometimes the carols are knitted realistically into the action, with Elton playing one of his nuclear-payload belters live on stage, or sometimes musingly trying out a song on the keyboard, giving us all goosebumps as we recognise a prototype of Candle in the Wind. But sometimes the psalms are part of a fantasy sequence, choreographed in such a way as goes us close to Lloyd Webber territory.
As Elton John, Taron Egerton gamely does a middleweight impersonation, more pleasant with the lighter surface: better at the tiaras than the outbursts. The fib makes us from the nations of the world of Reg Dwight, a colors, reticent teenager in Pinner, living with his mum( Bryce Dallas Howard) and emotionally stilted daddy( Steven Mackintosh) who without knowing it is sowing the grains of creative grief and storm. There’s also his adoring gran( Gemma Jones) who supports his music.
Then there’s the miraculous had met with lyricist Bernie Taupin( Jamie Bell ), the surly philistine-yet-shrewd proponent Dick James( Stephen Graham)- founder of the” old-time gray-haired whistling assessment” for the purpose of determining a stumble- and finally his devastatingly handsome lover and overseer John Reid( a toxically sex Richard Madden) with whom he precipitates out horribly. It skates us through the blessing dates of the 70 s, the astronomic record-sales, the coke and guzzle, the misjudged directly marriage and perhaps equally underestimated purchase of Watford FC, resolving with rehab and a 12 -step meeting from which the movie is recounted in piously imagined flashback.
The movie disconcertingly aims before he convenes the true love of his life David Furnish; there’s no mention of Princess Di, and nothing about his mum’s legendary 90 th birthday when they weren’t speaking and she hired an Elton John impersonator to come to her party instead.
Egerton ogles the part and carries off the costumes and glasses, the sequinned baseball costumes and perky bowlers well enough, but I felt he never quite delivers John’s woundedness when those he adored make him down; he couldn’t relatively do the lower-lip-trembling humiliation and hurt which fed into the rage and the nervousnes. I learnt myself wondering what Bell would have been like in the persona.
Of course, this Rocketman resembles the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody in a dozen different ways, although these are arguably genetic music-biopic criteria: the poor upbringing, the manager, the scene in the record studio, the fated first meeting with drugs and the delightful montage as the first punch soars up the following chart. Rocketman is candid enough about John’s name as a gay human.
I didn’t think this is a case of straightwashing: more unenjoymentwashing, a refusal to portray hedonism in any expressions other than doomy disapproval. Elton himself is shown defiantly saying he adored every minute, but the movie can’t help tacitly tutting and shaking its manager at places of him running mad- they precede now to a gesture of aimed suicide. And of course Elton’s kindness and abuse were risky, but they were also part of his artistic genius.
There is no central love story now: Bernie Taupin, despite his central importance to Elton life and art, isn’t in the action much and it is not easy to invest in Reid either as a lost kindnes or a bad guy who destroy Elton’s stomach. Lee Hall’s dialogue, robust fairly, is often a bit on the nose, shaping sure we know what we’re supposed to be thinking and feeling. It’s a bit by-the-numbers- but again, it could well sound better on stage
What the movie made an honest job of, was transmitting the meaning of the song itself: the projectile aviator who is afraid and lonely and for whom the apparently mind-blowing business of space travel is all in a day’s work. Rocketman is an honest, heartfelt tribute to Elton John’s music and his public image. But “the mens” itself outran it.