A standing ovation for more than four minutes from the sometimes snooty Cannes Film Festival audience at Rocketman’s world premier says it all. This is the second summer in a row to be dominated by a music legend biopic. Last year it was Bohemian Rhapsody about Freddie Mercury and this year it will be Rocketman about Elton John.
Early reviews make it clear that Taron Egerton, who plays Elton, carries the film on his back with his own singing – a point of contrast between him and Rami Malek, who played Freddie Mercury by lip syncing the songs.
Another contrast to Bohemian Rhapsody, and most other biopics, is that Rocketman’s story is driven by Elton John’s classic songs rather than by a story line in which the songs are placed. It is more a musical than a drama with music. Still the story gets told.
Like other compelling biographies, Elton John’s story is one of massive highs and equally massive lows. There is the almost instant ride up to stardom followed by the myriad of addictions – drugs and sex and food – followed by a happy ending, a clean and sober adulthood. There is the one constant through all of this, Elton’s writing partner, Bernie Taupin, played by Jamie Bell.The production is an ‘R’ rated sequin-fest that will surely produce an Oscar nomination for Taron Egerton and for production values like costumes and maybe for director Dexter Fletcher, who incidentally was brought in to save Bohemian Rhapsody. And so it goes full circle.