Dexter Fletcher‘s contribution to Bohemian Rhapsody may have gone fairly forgotten by a giant number of people but he’s right back on top with Rocketman. You’d be hard pressed to find a person unfamiliar with the music of Elton John but many of us may not have known how he got from A to B…eing a worldwide rock star. Taron Egerton previously got to show off his pipes in the (extremely disappointing) animated outing Sing but this time around he’s giving them a real work out, in the daunting task of portraying a living icon.
It’s fair to assume that no one was thinking Elton John had a boring life, no man, woman or child who wears that many colours, sequins, high heels and headdresses, doesn’t have a story worth telling, so there was plenty to work with. The youngest version of Elton played by Matthew Illesley is undeniably adorable and if he doesn’t break your heart, then you don’t have one because that is one little boy badly in need of a hug. Tackling the relationship between Elton and his parents is the real heart of the film, it may follow his meteoric rise in the music world but when the credits roll, a good bet is you’ll be thinking more about his absent father and unloving mother. This is where Fletcher is at his best, playing on the heartstrings with down to earth and universal themes, but that’s not to say the film’s more flashier moments aren’t as satisfying.
Smoothly segueing from drama to musical in swift motions throughout the entire runtime, it’s a pleasure to watch and while some are fully choreographed showstoppers, the simpler numbers are just as satisfying. The places where the feature loses ground are extremely subjective, some people may enjoy the more fantastical elements, taking the story out of reality and into space which is appropriate enough but it feels unnecessary, the performance more than stands by itself and the special effects add very little to an already entertaining moment, instead taking you out of it.
Egerton’s performance may be the centrepiece of the film but firstly, credit where credit is due to his co-stars, Richard Madden and Bryce Dallas Howard portrayals of John Reid and Sheila Dwight are solid highlights. Madden’s performance as the love of Elton’s life and utterly cruel agent is so convincing, you might find it hard to see him as a good guy again. From interviews and press, Howard seems like one of the most lovely human beings to grace the screen, so taking on the role of Elton’s mother gave her a chance to flex her bitter muscles and shows how difficult their relationship was, simultaneously as doing a very passable English accent, which is nothing to sniff at. Don’t despair though with all that negativity going on, we still have Gemma Jones’ as grandmother Ivy, who is everything you’d want her to be, supportive, loving and helps to nurture Elton’s talents.
Egerton is no stranger to the relatable hero and particularly with the help of Fletcher, in a career best performance, he may have warmed your heart as Eddie the Eagle but breaks it as Elton John. There’s been little chance for him to really use his dramatic talents, with his most recent projects involving much more running and shooting but he shows what he’s made of here and gives many a tearful closeup that won’t have you rolling your eyes but reaching for the tissues.
The choreography and camera work make for satisfying viewing, keeping the entertainment going strong throughout the film and the only slight drop is the ending, coming across as slightly mistimed so that the crescendo is already petering out before we hit the credits. Ignoring that little glitch, it’s otherwise smooth sailing and Rocketman is the ideal blend of musical and biopic, fun, flashy, real and as down to earth as you can get with that many sequins and a very fitting tribute to a legend.