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Film Review: Rocketman

Director:    Dexter Fletcher

Cast:    Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones, Steven Mackintosh, Tom Bennett

Rating:    MA

Running Time:    121

Australian Distributor:    Paramount Pictures Australia

 

Elton John has to be one of the most fascinating artists in music history. His rock and roll sound combined with his flashy lifestyle and unique wardrobe made him into a star. Of course, the flamboyance of his life and the success of his career called for a film.  While not a conventional biopic, Rocketman soars to new heights and tells a legend’s story in the most unconventional way possible that asks you to lock in and enjoy the ride.

This film takes a big swing in the way it chooses to tell its story and you are either on board with it or not. This film is part biopic and part musical. Yes that means there are multiple moments where they break out into song and dance and a big number ensues. Those wanting a ‘paint by numbers’, beat by beat biopic will be thrown for a loop. However, once you realise what they are going for and the leap they are taking, this movie really takes off.   

This is the life of Elton John through his eyes the way he sees it. The fantasy element is abundant and necessary to the story Elton wanted to tell and it works. We see him do what you expect to see, attending music school and meeting people who are important in his life, but we also see fantastical things such as him floating in the air. This juxtaposition makes the film stand out.

Unlike the dull Bohemian Rhapsody, here they use the songs to tell the story. The songs guide you to where Elton was, at various points in his life and this helps us understand him better. You hear “Tiny Dancer” when he feels lonely and his friend drifts away. It is something I did not expect but it worked extremely well.

Rocketman is an unconventional biopic about an unconventional man that truly honours his life. It will be a surprise for some when the film begins, and you are either in or out, but once you’re in, the movie sings. Yes, there are clichés and moments of cheesiness that hurt it, but it never derails the film.

Taron Egerton in Rocketman from Paramount Pictures.

Taron Egerton gives a performance that Elton John has to be proud of. Given the role was originally meant to be going to Tom Hardy, it really is quite the performance from an actor still trying to find his place in the acting landscape. When further backed up with strong turns from the ever brilliant, Jamie Bell and potential James Bond, Richard Madden, and the result is a film that gets the beat right.

Rocketman is certainly a film that requires a big screen and an even bigger sound system. Blasting to the heavens on the strength of its performances alone would be enough to garner success, but add the fact a compelling score and enjoyable narrative and the result is a pure cinematic treat.

 

 






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