We have been teased with trailers, snippets and a social media storm surrounding this colourful, epic musical fantasy about the early days of Elton John for months now, at least since the tear-jerker Christmas advert from a certain big store portraying a cherubic young man climbing onto his granny’s piano stool and starting to play. After the success of Bohemian Rhapsody late last year, I would imagine the public are about ready for another celebration of great British talent and, well, ridiculous pomposity.
I went into the screening room (Screen 2 of the Phoenix in Jericho – a little bit like an oversized lounge; comfortable, plush seating, but ever-so slightly too close to the man behind munching on his never-ending box of popcorn) pretty excited, to be honest. Along with Queen, I grew up marvelling at Elton John’s music and fascinated by his bonkers stage shows and ridiculous glasses. Even so, I didn’t really delve into the man behind the glasses, so here was an opportunity to learn a little more about how Reggie became Elton; albeit in a distorted and probably biased way, with husband David Furnish as a Producer and Elton himself as an Executive Producer.
The film is directed by Dexter Fletcher who also directed the lead, Taron Egerton, in Eddie the Eagle and took the helm of aforementioned Bohemian Rhapsody when original director Bryan Singer was fired. He knows his stuff! While the film moves from set-piece to set-piece, accented by a bejewelled swimming hat here, and a feathered mohawk there, it hangs together beautifully, telling the rather sad tale of a young boy desperate for affection or even just acknowledgement, from his mother and father and how, even after his meteoric rise to fame, is still ultimately disappointed by their behaviour towards him. Frankly, Egerton is phenomenal. Ever since seeing him in Kingsman: The Secret Service I must admit to being openly and madly in love with him, so obviously I wasn’t going to be disappointed - he can really do no wrong in my eyes! My husband came out of the screening saying, “He’s more like Elton John than actual Elton John!” and I agree; he’s just perfect for the role and puts his heart and soul into his performance – including singing the songs. No miming, dubbing or otherwise. And doing a rather excellent job.
Anyway, enough fangirling. The rest of the cast are just as outstanding – Jamie Bell’s Bernie Taupin is a perfect juxtaposition of calm against John’s tantrums. Bryce Dallas Howard is unrecognisable as John’s mother, Sheila, but it’s Bodyguard heartthrob Richard Madden who is the one to watch out for. His performance as John’s manager (John Reid) and one-time lover is brilliant: charming, sexy but ultimately quite a nasty piece of work.
If you’re looking for a realistic kitchen-sink drama, you’ve come to the wrong place. Rocketman is a 2-hour long spangly rollercoaster ride of a film that will have you desperately trying not to jig along in your seat while also trying not to cry.