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MOVIE REVIEW: ROCKETMAN

| 6 June 2019 | Reply

MOVIE REVIEW: ROCKETMAN
Written by Lee Hall, Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
80%

The world of this ultra-musical-theatre biopic of Elton John is a fantastical magical reality version of reality where young Reggie Dwight conducts an orchestra from his bed and breaks into a full dance number in the street.

If that sounds a bit stage musical to you, well, that’s because Elton’s story has been given the full, mega budget, Grease or We Will Rock You treatment, meaning song lyrics are inserted into the narrative, characters are brutally composited, and the timeline is crumpled into a ball, Doctor Who style.

All this is well and good – it makes for a fun-jammed rollercoaster ride of a story that doesn’t succumb to Bohemian Rhapsody’s indulgences of whitewashing the story to sanitise it for all ages. In Elton’s own words, he never lived a PG life, so why should the film try to say otherwise.

However, the devil is in the details, and it’s hard not to feel sad that so many contributors to Elton’s career were sacrificed in the streamlining for the sake of an entertaining film. Even casual fans will know that Elton purloined his surname not from Mr Lennon of The Beatles, as portrayed in the movie, but from Long John Baldry, singer with his band Bluesology, who is nowhere to be seen in this celluloid fantasy version of his life.

Taron Egerton does a stunning impression of Elton throughout, though, and the costume and set designers, those in charge of Egerton’s wigs and thinning of his own hair, all really do a sterling job recreating the time periods and looks of Elton’s OTT life. In a nutshell, he inhabits the character as cosily as some of the tight early-career costumes.

In contrast, though, Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin pretty much wears one wig for most of the film, which is more surprising when you consider the Taupin character here is pretty much a composite of almost everyone Elton ever knew.

Nitpicking aside, Rocketman is a blast. Egerton sings Elton’s songs well, and as already mentioned, he never ceases to look the part and has the man’s arrogance, weaknesses and mannerisms down to a tee, as well as capturing the euphoric, elevator power of music – literally so in one memorable scene where the entire audience at a club gig levitate with glee.

Co-produced by Elton’s long-time life partner David Furnish, Rocketman is an inventive and fantastical depiction of Elton’s life, from unhappy childhood, to musical glory and descent into the madness of addiction through a tangled maze of ego and abandonment issue, obsession for attention and the excesses and mayhem of super stardom. That it’s all wrapped up in a glitzy, glammy package that seems destined to be (very easily) adapted for the stage, will be a bonus for fans of this sequin-clad piano man.

Shane

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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