This might’ve been the musical biopic that some audiences were hoping for when they went to see “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“Rocketman” proves to be a complex, poignant, insightful, and yes even visually dazzling biography of Elton John and his fans will be anything but disappointed.
It stars Taron Egerton as John and the film begins with his stint in rehab and uses cues from his music to help set the stage for certain points in his life.
Born Reginald Dwight, Elton was born in England and from an early age, we’re given a look at his turbulent childhood and his dysfunctional relationship with his family, particularly with his mother (Bryce Dallas Howard).
We also get to see Elton’s love for music expand as he gets older and he’s eventually introduced to Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). Taupin embraces John as a friend and fellow songwriter and even supports John as he struggles with his identity.
Director Dexter Fletcher stages the musical numbers surrounding Elton’s music with all the flair and style of a Broadway show and they’re all toe-tapping from start to finish. “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” and “Rocketman” are unique standouts.
Egerton embodies the spirit of Elton John with the raw passion and enthusiasm John himself has and he doesn’t make a false step. It’s movie heaven to see this performance.
The movie isn’t a straightforward biopic in the sense of seeing a kind of greatest hits of John’s life: Humble beginnings, moment of discovery, reaching the peak of fame, delving into his downward spiral, etc. Instead we do get all of that, but with some hyper-stylized fantasy sequences punctuated by his hits as we experience the highs and lows.
Will “Rocketman” repeat the same success as “Bohemian Rhapsody?” Most definitely. This may be the template for other biopics to follow.
(Rated R for language throughout, some drug use and sexual content.)