‘Rocketman,’ the extravagant biopic of the flamboyant and fabulous Sir Elton John has blast it’s way onto the silver screen and into our hearts. Directed by the brilliantly British Dexter Fletcher, the film showcases Elton’s technicolour life from his childhood growing up in suburban post-war London to achieving superstar status by his early twenties. Fletcher pays tribute to the singer’s chart-topping highs and bottle-hitting lows, as the soundtrack of his biggest hits tie in seamlessly to document his career milestones.
It’s Elton’s rise to fame that results in a fatal nosedive straight into rehab for a series of addictions such as drinking, drugs, sex, and even shopping. And this is where the opening sequence begins, with a fresh-faced (also British) Taron Egerton adorned in a blazing orange satin one piece, complete with devil’s horns and angel wings. One would assume he is headed straight to the stage in this attire but he is actually rather late for a therapy session. It is here that the metaphorical angel and devil themselves sit atop his shoulders, as the self-destructive rockstar confesses all of his internal conflicts. This scene sets the framework for the entire film, with Elton recollecting momentous events in his life that have brought him to the very chair where he sits in all of his sequined glory.
Any tiny resentment towards Taron for not asking the costume department to borrow an outfit for the Met Gala is shattered by his stunning portrayal of Sir Elton Hercules John. As daunting as it can be to play such a living legend, his eccentric and quirky mannerisms, impeccable vocals and the ability to rock an array of rhinestone-bedazzled glasses, high-heeled boots and patterned suits is just as good as the man himself.
The first musical number ‘The Bitch Is Back’ kicks off with such lavish production you find yourself questioning whether you’ve walked into a movie theatre or straight into a Broadway play. This is the first we see of young Reginald (Reggie) Dwight (played at different ages by Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor), a lonely boy growing up desperate for his parents approval. Reggie first discovers his gift for music when touching the keys of the neglected family piano. Fast-forward a few years after honing his craft, he attends a crucial meeting with lyricist Bernie Taupin which goes on to become a life-changing friendship.
From there, ‘Rocketman’ truly takes off – capturing the essence of Elton’s glittery world through his undeniable showmanship and high-energy stage presence. The fateful love ballad ‘Your Song’ comes to creation under his very own roof, the celebratory ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ is another big production number, set in a 60’s teenage dream carnival, before a roaring Elton arrives to Hollywood to play his American debut at iconic LA venue the Troubadour. The singer’s talent is on full display as he plays ‘Crocodile Rock,’ captivating his very first international audience. Ready to take on the world with Bernie by his side, success is sweet as Elton performs their one-of-a-kind discography to sold-out shows around the globe. The nostalgia that comes with timeless tracks ‘Tiny Dancer’, ‘Take Me To The Pilot’, ‘Bennie And The Jets’, and ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ takes one back to the exhilarating days of when they were first released in the 70s.
But success can come at a price, and Elton becomes so engulfed in his newfound fame that he numbs the pain of his neglected childhood and loneliness through alcohol and drugs. In the films darkest hour, he seeks refuge in hallucinating his younger self with a duet of title track ‘Rocketman’ at the bottom of his pool, bringing him back to the surface after a deadly cry for help.
Fans of all ages won’t just find themselves immersed in the two hour run time alone, they will be singing the soundtrack for weeks to come. Even to biopic sceptics, it’s hard to resist the charismatic charm of ‘Rocketman’ and the respectful homage it pays to one of the greatest musicians of our lifetime. Taron Egerton and fellow cast mates do a spectacular job of bringing new life to a soundtrack of a man who’s rocket has never quite stopped soaring.