Updated: June 1, 2019 8:18:02 am
Rocketman movie cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard
Rocketman movie director: Dexter Fletcher
Rocketman movie rating: 4 stars
Comparisons are inevitable, with Rocketman coming so soon after Bohemian Rhapsody and Fletcher being behind the camera for both (he had stepped in as director for Bohemian Rhapsody after the fracas with Bryan Singer).
With Elton John as one of the executive producers, where Rocketman has an upper hand between the two films is in giving us a deeper insight into the man, both on and off the stage. That includes warts, drugs, drinks, sex and all, unlike the more sanitised Freddie Mercury film. It doesn’t spare the pain he suffered, or the hurt he caused. It also causes you to ponder if the elaborate costumes Elton dons, which become more and more fancy as the spotlight gets brighter, are a guise to hide behind. The image of him in a shiny orange jump suit with huge wings and horns, leaving the stage belting out Goodbye Yellow Brick Road will linger.
Egerton is an inspired choice to play the flamboyant rock star, and more than physical resemblance, the actor goes for capturing Elton’s essence, as the film pans outside the studios to film his hits against settings that could have been a possible inspiration. Driving the story through those songs, it captures the music prodigy’s lonely childhood, cold parents, sudden stardom, need for love, and a stint to rehab and back.
In one of the music world’s longest-lasting partnerships, one of Elton’s constant companions since the 1960s has been lyricist Bernie Taupin. Elton says at one point that they have never even had an argument in all this time, and Bell suffuses their relationship with that sense of deep, unsaid care and loyalty. Madden as the music manager who woos Elton at a time when homosexuality was a bad word, and promises him explosive love of the kind he has long been seeking, is sexy, dangerous and flinty.
It’s Howard who gets the film’s most raw deal. As Elton’s cold-hearted mother who lets him down at every crucial moment of his life, she is uni-dimensional. While Rocketman, named after one of Elton John’s hits, hints at life being tough for her too, it doesn’t seem to believe that itself.
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