IF Bohemian Rhapsody were the cheeseburger of music icon biopics, then Rocketman is the sirloin steak – with lobster on the side.
This film is a soul baring musical exploration of the most traumatic period of Elton’s life – loveless parents, drug addiction, a painful struggle over his sexuality, physical abuse, bulimia and a suicide attempt.
Any fears the storyline would be toned down because of Elton’s involvement are dispelled within minutes.
Taron Eggerton excels as Elton to the point he seems to become him.
While Rami Malek achieved the same feat as Freddie Mercury, the fundamental difference here is that this leading man sings all Elton’s songs himself, bringing new life to classics like Your Song and I’m Still Standing.
The film opens with Elton finally admitting he’s an addict in a group therapy session before he’s taken back to his unhappy childhood, with kudos to the two young Eltons played Kit Connorand Matthew Illesley, who are both young talents.
They later changed into black tie for the red carpet event with, Elton and his husband David Furnish, far right, joined by Richard Madden, far left, and Taron[/caption]
Director Dexter Fletcher’s movie gives an unflinching betrayal of Elton’s selfish mother Shelia – played as a mega b***h by the compelling Bryce Dallas Howard – and absent cruel father Stanley Dwight, who died still having refused to see Elton live.
They are, the film argues, the real reason for Elton’s near-death descent.
The hero of the piece is his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin – portrayed with an honest sensitivity that should see Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell win awards.
After rejecting Elton’s romantic advances, they form a connection based on real love – something absent in Elton’s young life.
The legendary singer wore a specially made tux with sequinned writing on the back[/caption]
The screening was the first time Elton had seen the film, a biopic about his life[/caption]
The same cannot be said for the film’s villain John Reid – played by Bodyguard’s Richard Madden with sexy Scottish aggression.
Rightly a much talked about gay sex scene has not been cut, despite discussion about how it would go down with US audiences.
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Rocketman’s fantasy elements elevate it further – the underwater sequence during the title song following Elton’s desperate suicide attempt somehow becomes beautiful, with astounding choreography.
Rocketman is an old fashioned musical with superb songs and goosebump-inducing acting.
It’s little wonder the main man has cancelled a gig that clashes with next year’s Oscars. This has best picture nominee written all over it.