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Taron Egerton – Elton John
Bryce Dallas Howard – Sheila Dwight
Richard Madden – John Reid
Jamie Bell – Bernie Taupin
Gemma Jones – Ivy Dwight
Stephen Graham – Dick James
Jason Pennycooke – Wilson
Charlie Rowe – Ray Williams
Rachel Muldoon – Kiki Dee
If Elton John himself wanted to release a drug and alcohol-fuelled mess of a film into the world to act as ‘closure’ to previous life misery – Rocketman would be it. This production bleeds Dry Martini as director Dexter Fletcher charts the milestones of Reggie Dwight, growing from boy to man to Elton John. And overall he really doesn’t do a bad job. The film incorporates everything you’d expect from this type of story;
an opening song & dance complete with synchronised routine that would put any televised musical in its place.
The lead character and storyteller pouring his heart out at a self-help group which fades in and out of flashbacks to show the viewer his version of events leading up to the present day.
Elaborate (and often over the top) costume and camp accessories.
Swanky villas draped in gold, crystal furniture and tapestries.
Authentic and brilliantly edited music videos whereby Egerton is morphed into the picture as Elton.
And of course, a soundtrack comprised of some of the singer’s finest tunes playing throughout the film.
Everything an Elton John fan could want is here, although be prepared for some raw scenes as it balances the rough with the smooth. And the rough comes thick and fast. In fact, upon asking a guy I know why the hell Rocketman was so tragic, his response was something like, “well it’s showing you that part of his life”. And it’s true – if you put this movie on thinking it’ll be like rollerskating over a giant rainbow, think again. The pace is great as the story progresses, it’s just the constant aggression being vented by Egerton that makes it feel like an episode of Eastenders. Being as the base of the movie is set in an addiction rehabilitation group, it seems fitting that emotions should spiral when Elton talks about his struggles through life. And at points the rage hits the screen in an enormous wave; images of Elton distraught whilst off his face on drugs or screaming at his music manager / partner John during a fight. And even an attempted suicide.
The movie takes a massive dip, shifting from sing-a-long fun to tragedy as it covers up the glitter when Elton’s personal demons come to light. These are in the form of alcoholism, a rocky romantic relationship, career struggles, drug addiction and family turmoil which lay bare the chart-topper’s most private issues. It’s good that this raw honesty shows even world-famous celebrities are human, but overall Rocketman is half-depressing, half-joyous. You might revel in its musical glory but a good chunk of its story will definitely tug at the heart strings as you discover exactly what Reggie’s life was like behind the scenes.
The casting could not be any better. Howard as Elton’s mother does a splendid job, bringing a character so vastly different to previous ones played in other films. Her British accent is spot-on too.
And then Egerton..
..there could be no actor better suited to the role of Elton John. This young chap has the looks, the voice and even his singing is incredibly similar to that of the man himself. He’s even got the slitty thin-lipped mouth, it’s just superb. His performance is faultless.
A well-directed look into how one singer’s life pieced together spectacularly. Give Rocketman a go if you like a bit of Elton John, you won’t be too disappointed.