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A glimpse of the ups and downs of Rockstar Elton John's breakthrough years.

Review by Louise Keller:
Camouflaged under appropriately diminishing hair, flamboyant spectacles and outrageous costumes, Taron Egerton's superb lead performance as Elton John offers Rocketman every chance to soar but the film is a mixed bag: a sombre drama about self-acceptance within a razzamatazz musical. Egerton dazzles but the film lacks the dramatic curve and emotional power that Bohemian Rhapsody delivered so effectively, There is plenty to enjoy however; just don't expect to be blown away.

Screenwriter Lee Hall has taken Elton's rehab as the central pivot to lure us into his world, flitting back and forth in time from early childhood (as Reggie Dwight) to the peaks of his stardom. The structure may be predictable and contrived, but the choreography, costumes and editing are top notch. Director Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle) manages the material adequately and although there is no shortage of those great Elton songs (Pinball Wizard from Tommy is my favourite), the music often feels like interstitials, providing light relief to the darkness of the main themes. It is that emotional hit that is lacking.

When the film begins, we meet Elton on his way to rehab at his most outrageous; wearing orange sequined jumpsuit, sequined headdress with detachable horns, heart-shaped diamante spectacles and dramatic red and black feathered wings. Over the next two hours, some of his stated demons (alcohol, cocaine, sex, bulimia and anger) are addressed. Key to the story is Elton's troubled relationships with his parents, conflicts about homosexuality and fundamental issues about being loved.

The entire cast is excellent with special mention to Matthew Illesley as the young Reggie, Bryce Dallas Howard as Reggie's dismissive mother, Steven Mackintosh as the father who never accepted him, Gemma Jones as his doting grandmother and Jamie Bell as Elton's 'brother' Bernie Taupin, the lyricist with whom Elton wrote all his songs. Richard Madden is suitably nasty as Elton's former lover and manager. Watch for the scene when the adult Elton embraces the child within: one of the film's most moving.

Ultimately, the film belongs to Egerton, whose handsome features and astute embodiment of the extremes of Elton's pathos and extravagance skyrockets.

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(UK/US, 2019

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

PRODUCER: Adam Bohling, David Furnish, David Reid, Matthew Vaughn

DIRECTOR: Dexter Fletcher

SCRIPT: Lee Hall


EDITOR: Chris Dickens

MUSIC: Matthew Margeson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Peter Francis, Marcus Rowland

RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes



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