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Story of a rocket ‘n’ roll star

Glittering Elton John biopic, starring Taron Egerton, does justice to a musician who has created some of the best pop songs in the English language

23 May, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

Taron Egerton is wonderful as Elton John, sashaying through each scene

ROCKETMAN
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Certificate 15
☆☆☆☆

AN opening scene with Elton John striding down a corridor in a splendid outfit, beautifully backlit, only to plonk himself down in a draughty hall to tell us what a mess his life is sets the scene for this lovely biopic of the keyboard-tinkling, hit-singing, sequin-loving, comedy sunglass-wearing legend.

Elton (Taron Egerton) is an addict, in hock to a wide range of things that are doing him no good. He has to get a handle on it – a decade of global success has laid waste his ability to engage with reality, and we start by meeting a very lonely and very sad superstar who has a life story to tell us…

Flashback to an Edwardian semi in the 50s and we meet little Reggie Dwight, a supernaturally gifted piano player at an early age with two warring parents.

We follow him as he grows up in such trying circumstances, comes out and hits the big time.

Taron Egerton, who plays the Rocketman, has starred in two of the worst films I have ever seen – the beyond diabolical Kingsman series. I still scowl at the memory.

So what a way to make it up to us poor cinema-goers: he is wonderful as Elton, sashaying through each scene, showing us he has a tune that he simply has to share from his glittery platform boots to his thinning pate.

He holds the attention like a true rock star, and surrounding him are a support cast that are the perfect foil.

Songwriting collaborator Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell, who is becoming the nation’s youngest ever appointment to National Treasure status) offers a lovely, grounded presence alongside Elton’s craziness.

And it may surprise you quite how many tunes Elton and Bernie wrote and performed that have sunk into the core of your being: be warned, you could be humming, whistling and singing the hits for days afterwards.

The marvellous choreography has dancers springing out stage left to add some exterior glitz to Elton’s interior demons in the best MGM musical-style tradition.

Dexter Fletcher – Baby Face from Bugsy Malone – has created a wonderful piece of direction that does justice to a man who not only has created some of the best pop songs in the English language, but through his charity has raised more than £450m to fights Aids worldwide.

Bravos all round.

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