Director: Dexter Fletcher
Screenplay: Lee Hall
Cast: Taron Egerton (Elton John), Jamie Bell (Bernie Taupin), Bryce Dallas Howard (Sheila / Mum), Steven Mackintosh (Stanley / Dad) Richard Madden (John Reid), Tate Donovan (Doug Weston), Stephen Graham (Dick James).
Once in a while a Movie comes along and completely takes you by surprise and exceeds all your expectations.
I must admit that I wasn’t expecting a great deal from this film but the director Dexter Fletcher (yes that tiny cheeky chappy, with the dodgy American accent “Baby Face” in Alan Parker’s 1976 gangster musical Bugsy Malone) has grown up to be a brilliant creator of movies with an eye for the unusual and a natural entertainer.
He has taken Elton John’s life story and hedonistic life style and laid it all out for the world to see. The film opens with Elton (Played superbly by Taron Egerton) walking into a rehab group therapy session in LA, still wearing his demonic show costume, sporting huge wings and horns.
Elton in rehab!
This is Elton admitting to his various addictions, alcohol, cocaine, sex addiction, a bulimic and shopaholic!
Then we rewind a few decades back to when he was little Reginald Dwight from Pinner. Who just happened to have an ear for music. The film follows young Reg through the Royal Academy of Music and to his first gigs as backing band for a group of American soul singers to eventually changing his name to Elton John (the surname supposing chosen from a photo of John Lennon on the wall of a record producers office).
But it’s when Elton meets up with his future collaborator Bernie Taupin that his life begins to change forever. Taupin wrote most of Elton’s lyrics and would send them to Elton, who had the ability to match the lyrics to the music playing in his head.
Bernie & Elton
In my opinion this is the film Bohemian Rhapsody wanted to be.
Rocketman, takes a leaf out of Dennis Potters TV triumph ‘Pennies from Heaven’ where the cast dressed in their 1930’s costumes would suddenly burst into song and dance routines. Which had never been seen before on British TV.
Taron Egerton sang all of the Elton John songs himself (so no lip-syncing) and they are all classics many of which are quite emotional to watch and listen to. In fact I actually got emotional throughout the musical interludes, as I was a kid of the late 1960’s and the 1970’s when Elton was at his best and I grew up with these tunes. They do say that great songs evoke memories from your past.
Elton in a relaxing moment.
But there is no doubt that this is the Taron Egerton show, who really puts his heart and soul into becoming Elton.
The film also boasts a great British cast with the likes of Stephen Graham (line of Duty) as dodgy cockney record producer Dick James, Richard Madden (Bodyguard / Game of Thrones) as Elton’s slimy agent John Reid, Steven Mackintosh (The Muppet Christmas Carol / Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels) as Elton’s Dad Stanley, who never showed him an affection. However, we must not leave out the American, Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton’s Mum Sheila who was not very maternal to her boy.
This is a very though provoking film and I’m sure that there has been some fabrication along the way (I’m surprised he could even remember some of the later years of ‘Men drugs and rock & Roll’) But I’m sure there is a lot of truth and probably been a cleansing therapy session for Elton. It must have been strange seeing himself through Taron Egerton’s performance.
You will laugh and cry and you will definitely be tapping the cinema seats and singing along with all your favourite Elton and Bernie’s tunes and lyrics. I know I did!
The Butch and Sundance of their time! (As in best buds!…you know what I mean!)
In Cinemas now