The new Sir Elton John biopic Rocketman screened to critics at Cannes Film Festival last night (16 May). Those in attendance on the French Riviera gave the film a standing ovation, yet the reviews have been lukewarm.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher and starring Taron Egerton, Rocketman has been called a fantastical account of the “Tiny Dancer” singer’s life, rather than a warts-and-all telling.
Many critics compared the film to Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which was worked on by Dexter Fletcher, who took over as director from Brian Singer midway through production. Bohemian Rhapsody defied middling reviews to gross upwards of £705 million at the global box office.
The Independent‘s Geoffrey Macnab said Fletcher “uses lavish musical sequences to whisk his way through episodes in Elton John’s life”. Macnab describes the film as diving into some of Elton’s darkest moments, but that these are filmed in a ”very flamboyant fashion” that ”manages to leaven matters with some ironic humour”.
Variety‘s Peter Debruge wrote that Rocketman ”seems mostly preoccupied with the surface idea of Elton: the outrageous wardrobe, the spectacular showmanship, and his relatively unusual status as an openly gay megastar”.
David Rooney, for The Hollywood Reporter, wrote: “As a fantasia on the making of Elton John, Rocketman at the very least commits wholeheartedly to its flashy eccentricity, and for many, that will be more than fun enough”.
The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw awarded the film three stars, writing that Egerton “gamely does a middleweight impersonation, more comfortable with the lighter side: better at the tiaras than the tantrums”.
Robbie Collin, for The Telegraph, was more positive, giving Rocketman a full five stars, saying there is “no comparison” between it and Bohemian Rhapsody.
“Putting the two side by side would be like conducting a taste test between a porterhouse steak smothered in tomato ketchup and a smouldering old shoe someone pulled off a bonfire,” he wrote.
“After the self-effacing salvage job, Fletcher has stormed back with the real, electrifying deal.”
Rocketman reaches UK cinemas the 22 May.
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