Home » Film Festivals » ‘Rocketman’ Review: Dir. Dexter Fletcher (2019) [Cannes]

‘Rocketman’ Review: Dir. Dexter Fletcher (2019) [Cannes]

by Paul Heath

Image: Paramount Pictures.

Dexter Fletcher directs a fantastical, flamboyant, and frankly phenomenal biopic of rock and roll icon Elton John, formerly Reginald Dwight, in a film that in a post-Bohemian Rhapsody movie-going world soars to altogether different dizzy, delightful heights.

Taron Egerton is the Rocketman for the majority of the film; a career-defining performance in a cinematic spectacle that needs to be experienced on the big screen. We know we’re in for something entirely different to ‘Rhapsody’ in the opening moments as Egerton’s Elton Hercules John, in full, glorious devil attire sits down in a therapy meeting to admit – and I paraphrase slightly, an ‘alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, with issues relating to anger management’. We’re in for quite the ride over the next two hours, most of Elton’s colourful life told in flashback from his years as a child growing up in Pinner, Middlesex, all of the way through to the absolute height of his global fame.

Fletcher and Lee Hall’s superbly constructed script, employ the use of Elton’s songs from the off. Even before the film properly stars, as the Paramount logo fades, Matthew Margeson’s wonderful score, riffing off the iconic John/Taupin melodies slowly start to build and you know for quite the trip. Trippy indeed it is, but wonderfully so. Once signed to his first label, Elton plays the Troubadour in Los Angeles where, wile belting out Crocodile Rock, elevates from the floor whilst still tickling the ivories as only he can. Another sequence sees him actually take off like a rocket, while others develop the narrative in very different and creative ways. Younger Reggie (Kit Dalton) seamlessly morphs into Egerton’s Reg during a particularly impressive segment set to ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting‘. It is pure musical theatre, which is clearly how the filmmakers have approached the project. Those beautiful songs are used to aid the narrative, each of the characters chipping in to sing – including Richard Madden as John Reid – all of which were captured as-live on set. All of it seems effortless by all involved.

Related: Music video: Taron Egerton sings Elton John’s Rocketman

When I wasn’t beaming from ear to ear during the narrative’s more upbeat moments, I was sobbing into my sleeve, not only during some the tragedy that occurs, or did occur in John’s life, but also the depiction of the bond between Elton and Bernie Taupin, here expertly portrayed by Jamie Bell. The creation of Your Song, the legendary track that kick-started both of their careers, represented in a scene during the first reel, pulled at every emotion.

What you get out of Rocketman I suppose depends on how much you’re into Elton John’s music. Personally, I think there’s something in here for everyone, though lovers of his life work will walk away having witnessed something rather special. I certainly did, though I would have to disclose that I firmly into the latter.

Rocketman shoots for the stars and lands every beat perfectly from beginning to end and is, put simply, the best time you’ll have in a cinema auditorium this year. A film unafraid to shy away from the darkness; the story of an extraordinary life, told in a completely unique, out of this world way, full of exceptional performances, and wonderful staging. An absolute blast.

Rocketman was reviewed at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and will be released on 22nd May.

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