I never really got Taron Egerton. Sure, I’ve enjoyed the movies he’s been in, but he could have been replaced by any one of many actors and I doubt I’d have noticed.
Consider me a convert.
Of the many steps in producing a biopic, the casting process may be the single most important one. Yes, even more important than the script (the story’s not supposed to be tampered much with, guys).
Right from the beginning, I can’t help but feel a sense of relief. I’m not a fan of biopics very much. Not very many happy stories get made into movies, and I don’t see the point in watching something depressing for two hours only to find out I wasn’t being given the truth anyways. I’d much rather a good dose of fantasy. But with Taron Egerton’s devil-suited saunter onto the screen, followed by a complete straight-faced segue into song, I knew this was going to be the ride I wanted to experience on a journey towards learning more about Reginald Dwight.
Or, y’know, Elton John.
Tracing the legend’s life beginning with what could be considered a mundane childhood for a marvel such as he, director Dexter Fletcher’s and writer Lee Hall’s vision quickly become apparent with a musical number introducing the premise.
While it may have been the more obvious route to consider the traditional, more sombre direction with a tale of such heavy content, Rocketman makes the smarter decision of leaning into the much larger than life aspects of John’s life, leaving Egerton and his co-stars to ground the film with their emotionally charged acting. Not only does this allow for the almost-mandatory montage sequences to adopt an oddly organic flow melding seamlessly with the film, but also offers the opportunity for some interesting rearrangements of classics.
Of course, I take certain pleasure in having Lee Hall and Jamie Bell–who plays John’s longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin–reunite, having first worked together on 2000’s Billy Elliot, which would later be turned into a musical featuring an original score by Elton John himself with lyrics by Hall.
Bolstered by the surprising presence of Bryce Dallas Howard, the ever matronly Gemma Jones, and Richard Madden (who must be so thankful he got killed off way before season eight of Game of Thrones), Rocketman sets the bar for entertainment driven films of such subject matter. Given its dark themes concerning Johns’ addictions and spirals, as well as the portrayal of his sexuality, this almost Mamma Mia!-esque portrayal must have been a creative hurdle. Thankfully, it pays off, and there’s nothing to regret.
Rocketman is out in theatres now and is a whole new boat of emotions.