Based on a true fantasy

Rocketman is the movie Bohemian Rhapsody should have been, willing to take the big stylistic swings – and confront the messiness of its subject’s sexuality – that aren’t just desirable for a story this big, but necessary. Elton John’s music (performed in the film by its star Taron Egerton), like Queen’s, is outsized and operatic and wild, so treating his life and early superstardom as a metafictional jukebox musical rather than a conventional biopic just seems logical.

Poster for the fantastical music biography RocketmanDirector Dexter Fletcher doesn’t shy away from the stagier aspects of the format; certain numbers have a proscenium quality, as though we’re peeking in on a West End production that’s yet to be mounted.

Not every conceit works, but when Rocketman finds its stylized sweet spot – a bouncy, literal take on ‘Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting’, a knockout debut of ‘Crocodile Rock’ at the Troubadour, a discovery of ‘Your Song’ that shifts the focus onto Bernie Taupin (played by Jamie Bell)  – well, it sings.

– Norman Wilner, NOW Toronto

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