“Taron Egerton is Elton John”, reads the billboard for the film Rocketman. Egerton plays the role of the famed rockstar in this jukebox musical that uses John’s songs to tell the story of his own life.
Rocketman retells John’s rise to fame story, being gay in the ‘70s, and his addictions to alcohol and drugs, but as opposed to the usual biography, Rocketman uses the main character’s own songs to narrate the story. Each song was used to illustrate the mood of the scenarios that John found himself in.
While it brings an artistic flair to the movie, it also posed a challenge as the songs were not written to actually tell the life story of Elton John. And while the technique worked well for some theatrical shows, it was quite a different scenario for the film. Some songs simply didn’t fit.
Dexter Fletcher directed the film based on the screenplay by Lee Hall. Lee Hall’s chronicle of John’s life started in the early years of his life as Reginald Dwight, a piano prodigy living with his emotionally distant father and unhappy mother. The film also highlighted his exceptional partnership with his lyricist Bernie Taupin.
While his relationship with Taupin was portrayed as a model of friendship, John’s relationships to other people in his orbit were of the contrary, like that with his manager John Reid. Reid was quick to work his way into John’s career and personal life and eventually ended up exploiting him.
The film portrayed the “wild ride” that Reid promised John, including the latter’s Hollywood success story which is marked by his performance at Troubadour in 1970s, and how he turned to alcohol and drugs to fill the void in his life. A scene that the rockstar John shared with his younger self was also a tender moment that gave the film an episodic undertone. All these scenes were recreated with uttermost attention and detail, and Egerton effectively portrayed not only John’s voice but also his mannerisms and inner anguish.