The director and actor pairing of Dexter Fletcher and Taron Egerton soared on the slopes for their Eddie the Eagle underdog story back in 2015, and now they’ve reunited to reach for the stars in Elton John biopic Rocketman. After a troubled working-class upbringing, we see Reginald Dwight (Egerton) come of age when he meets songwriter Bernie (Jamie Bell) and they start making music together. When the duo head to Los Angeles to crack America, Elton’s head is turned by hotshot producer John Reid (Richard Madden), and his rock and roll lifestyle soon spirals out of control.
The rags to riches and rise and fall arcs are common and somewhat well-worn narrative paths, but the film breaks free from the genre conventions through cleverly structured storytelling. Using a rehab meeting as a frame tale, we witness his turbulent life through flashbacks which provides free creative reins to present the musical numbers as big, fabulous, fantasy sequences. In these segments, the piece really shines due to the exquisite production in recreating Elton’s many outlandish outfits. There’s comfort in knowing that, unlike many others, Elton is very much still standing at the other side of his ordeals with drugs and alcohol, but that doesn’t lessen the tragic nature of his lowest lows.
Possessing the destructive concoction of vulnerability and cocky charisma, Egerton is the ideal sum of Elton’s parts. He disappears into the role to give a transformative performance, and more than holds his own in the heartwarming renditions of the showman’s greatest hits. Bell and Madden represent the metaphorical angel and devil on the shoulders of the impressionable protagonist, and both are excellent in their own right without hogging the limelight from the main attraction.
This is the latest success in the short but stellar back catalogue of work behind the camera from director Dexter Fletcher. Sorry might seem to be the hardest word, but Rocketman is unapologetic in its glittering portrayal of its showstopping protagonist. It’s an unabashed and refreshingly truthful cinematic celebration of one of Britain’s most beloved talents.
See the trailer: