Fresh off the blazing success of last year’s mammoth Bohemian Rhapsody, (which grossed $900 million globally) comes another biopic thrusting rock royalty under the microscope. While Bohemian Rhapsody was an overrated and bloated mess, Rocketman, the story of music icon Elton John, soars behind an electrifying and completely immersive performance by Kingsman star Taron Egerton. Where Bohemian Rhapsody sanitized Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury’s sexuality, Rocketman embraces it. This film is the very embodiment of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.
Rocketman tells the story of Reginald Dwight (Elton John), a lonely child raised in British suburbia. Elton’s childhood was encompassed by neglect, as his divorced parents treated his existence with eye rolls and shoulder shrugs. Elton quickly assuages his disconsolation by enveloping his life around the piano. It’s at this stage Elton meets his best friend and longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin (a wonderful Jamie Bell), and Rocketman delves full throttle into the musical career of Elton John. While the film does provide an overwhelming amount of formulaic fan service, director Dexter Fletcher wisely stays away from the paint by numbers “greatest hits” approach that plagued the aforementioned Bohemian Rhapsody. For all the flair and flamboyance that Elton electrified fans with, the film touches moments of greatness when it goes for bare bones brutal honesty. While we revel in Elton’s success, the audience also gets to be a fly on the wall as he confronts and tackles his many demons.
Of course, none of this works without the lead performance by Egerton. Egerton plays Elton John with such a rich pathos and poignancy that will almost certainly have Academy Awards voters casting their Oscar ballots in early June.
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By SCOTT PETERSON
cinesportstalk.com | @CineSportsTalk