Rocketman 2019 ***

Bohemian Rhapsody casts a long shadow over Rocketman, which not only mines a similar character with a similar goal during a similar 70’s period, but also has the same manager (John Reid) as a central character. Without the sentimental response that Freddie Mercury elicited, and sans the huge climax of the Live Aid gig in Rhapsody, Rocketman has to go for something different; with Elton John very much alive, still standing and able to approve all creative choices, the result is a fun if self-regarding look at a great musician and performer. Played by Taron Egerton without much flair, John rises from a talented boy in shorts hammering away on the pub’s piano to a suicidal rock legend quaffing booze and drugs as if there’s no tomorrow. Having a good time is portrayed as Elton’s downfall; he obstacles are all in John’s head, which makes for a highly personal if rather un-dramatic narrative. There are some odd decisions, like having all John’s music fully formed from his early years; he sings Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting at an age when he can hardly have known what he’s singing about. But the music carries the film, making this an amusing fantasia of outrageous costumes, high-end eyewear and flattering fabrications about the star.


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