Film Review: Rocketman

10:00 June 03, 2019
By: Fritz Esker

It might seem like the Elton John biopic Rocketman is an extension of last year's craze of music films (Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born), but it has a different feel than those movies.

Directed by Dexter Fletcher (who finished Bohemian Rhapsody after the original director Bryan Singer was fired), Rocketman is essentially a surrealist Broadway jukebox musical about John's rise to fame and his struggle with addiction. The film also addresses the difficulties John had as a homosexual in a world full of discrimination against gay men. His mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) tells him he'll never be "loved properly".

Rocketman strives for a more dreamlike quality that most biopics, exemplified by one scene where John (Taron Egerton) and his audience start levitating. Scenes regularly stop so the cast can break into one of John's hit songs. All of this is different from Rhapsody, where Queen only sang when they were on stage or in the studio.

While people who dislike John's music or musicals in general would of course be advised to stay away, those who are fans of the genre will find stuff to like here, starting with Egerton's performance in the lead. The film (written by Lee Hall) also provides interesting commentary on the way all biopics lie/distort the truth. The framing device features John narrating his story to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He'll say one thing and the flashbacks will often contradict him.

We've seen plenty of traditional musical biopics like Ray, Walk the Line, etc., so it's nice to see Rocketman at least try to do something a little different.

*** stars (out of four)

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