Movie review: Rocketman

26 Jul 2019 / 10:04 H.

I REALLY wanted this movie to be a stupendous masterpiece of a musical biopic, chiefly because director Dexter Fletcher was the unsung hero of last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody when he took over after the original director got fired.

Rocketman, based on the life of British pop singer Elton John, enjoyed massive hype due to its wonderful trailer, and was also screened out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival recently where it received lots of fanfare, with the singer himself present to promote it.

Despite having some sex scenes cut out, it is still an engaging story but the way it is delivered might prove to be tedious for some people.

The story begins with Elton (Taron Egerton) in a red-winged costume showing up for a group therapy session and admitting to being addicted to alcohol, drugs and sex, as well as being bulimic.

As he slowly opens up about his life and what led him to seek help, the movie flashes between the past and present, where we see Elton removing bits of his costume each time he has hit a milestone of sorts.

We watch his sad childhood with cold emotionally-distant parents (Steven Mackintosh and Bryce Dallas Howard) and his loving grandmother (Gemma Jones); his long-enduring friendship with lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell); his downhill spiral due to the influence of manager and lover John Reid (Richard Madden); and how he picks himself up again when he realises he has hit rock bottom.

As the story is told by an addict, during flashbacks, we see characters breaking out into song suddenly, people floating during a show, and some strange underwater visions.

This are the kind of stuff film buffs discuss over drinks, but for normal viewers, it can be tedious.

On the upside, Egerton carries the entire film on his shoulders brilliantly, as well as singing Elton’s evergreen hit songs himself.

Elton’s friendship with Bernie is also given a right amount of emphasis, reminding us how formidable their musical partnership was.

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