Following on the smash hit success of Bohemian Rhapsody last year it is no surprise that we’re seeing another musical biopic so soon, as trends always seem to come in waves. Now I cannot claim to be an Elton John expert, my knowledge basically includes three songs and his Kingsman 2 appearance, so Rocketman was going to need to do more than just give us John’s music to pull me in.
And plot wise Rocketman doesn’t really add much new to the music biopic genre, as apparently all rock stars have lived essentially the same life: meet your collaborators, grow to prominence, begin to party too hard, fall out with those closest to you, hit rock bottom, find some redemption and reconcile with their loved ones. And Rocketman follows that exact story arc as well. So to make it stand out director Dexter Fletcher had to inject something new.
And the way Fletcher elevated Elton John’s story was through the incorporation of some fantastical elements into the musical sequences. This is truly in keeping with the over the top personality that Elton has always projected in the public eye. He also chose to pick and choose when to use songs in moments that they fit rather than strictly putting them in the proper time they were written in Elton’s history. This means that every song fits with what is happening narratively or character wise at any particular moment, which is a far better way of doing it, than having the audience see the artist’s writing premise.
As well as Fletcher’s direction the other great asset that Rocketman has is Taron Egerton as Elton John. He perfectly captures the big and flamboyant aspects of John’s public persona, but it is in the smaller details of Egerton’s performance that he truly stands out. This isn’t just a great impression of a celebrity, but a brilliant and intimate performance from a man who is truly inhabiting the character through his lowest points. On top of all that Egerton is actually singing the songs that you hear in the film, something he does a fabulous job with.
And honestly if I had been a fan of Elton John’s music then I would probably have loved Rocketman, but even without that this is musical biopic with an exceptional lead performance and that has been excellently crafted.