Offering the part of Elton John to 29-year-old Welsh actor Taron Egerton was an inspired move. In addition to resembling a younger Elton, Egerton possesses the musical chops to belt out those memorable tunes. I was surprised to learn that Egerton was the third choice. Justin Timberlake and Tom Hardy were originally cast in the role.
The film begins on a dramatic note. Dressed in a glittery devil costume—complete with horns and wings—Elton pushes through two doors and enters a room filled with people participating in what looks like a group therapy session. Spellbound, everyone listens as Elton confesses to having consumed every drug imaginable along with being a sex addict, a shopaholic, bulimic, and having anger-management issues.
Elton has entered the word of rehab.
And so, begins a personal narrative, punctuated by a series of ballads and musical numbers taken from Elton’s extensive catalogue.
The most heartbreaking scenes involve the child prodigy, first known as Reginald Dwight, struggling to capture the attention of his self-absorbed, often cruel mother—brilliantly played by Bryce Dallas Howard—and his dismissive father (Steven Macintosh). Thankfully, his loving grandmother (Gemma Jones) showed some affection toward Reginald.
In young adulthood, Elton meets up with songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). While their working relationship survived the turbulence of Elton’s life, their personal lives often diverged. Elton’s latent homosexuality and flamboyance clashed with Taupin’s heterosexuality and more reserved nature.
Devilishly handsome Richard Madden delivers an excellent performance as Elton’s personal manager and abusive lover. The Scottish actor has been pegged as a possible replacement for Daniel Craig as James Bond.
The film ends on a positive note as pictures of all the actors are shown next to their real-life counterparts. We also learn that Elton John has been addiction-free for 28 years.
Twelve years in the making, Rocketman has succeeded in celebrating Elton John’s music and capturing the drama that surrounded his rise to stardom.
A must-see film!