Ever since 2015’s Straight Outta Compton proved that musical biopics can still pull their weight, Hollywood has capitalized on the genre. Last year saw the release of Bohemian Rhapsody, which went on to win multiple Academy Awards and a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama. On the heels of its success comes Rocketman, a biographical musical starring British actor Taron Egerton that tells the story of Elton John’s life from his young years as a child prodigy all the way through to his successful career. Unsurprisingly, the movie also focuses on the singer’s struggles with depression and substance abuse, as well as his sexual orientation.
Earlier this week, Rocketman premiered at the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival, and so far, the response and reactions to the biopic/musical hybrid seem to be rather positive. Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Rebecca Keegan had nothing but good things to say, praising Egerton’s performance in particular. Taron, who’s best known for his role in Kingsman: The Secret Service and its sequel, worked closely with Elton John, and even had to sing and dance in front of the legendary musician.
Stuart Oldham, meanwhile, an editor for Variety, called Rocketman “fantastic,” praising the film for nailing the highs and lows of Elton’s life, and The Sun’s Dan Wootton was similarly full of praise.
Hot damn, Taron Egerton is the real deal. #Rocketman is a musical about picking yourself up off your ass and Taron delivers the sweat, grit and vulnerability it needs.
— Rebecca Keegan (@ThatRebecca) May 16, 2019
If Bohemian Rhapsody were the cheeseburger of music icon biopics, then #Rocketman is the sirloin steak – with lobster on the side. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My first review from the #Cannes Film Festival world premiere https://t.co/nbj6IUTNBP pic.twitter.com/qy3VXrB83X
— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) May 16, 2019
“Rocketman” is fantastic, a musical drama that hits all the right notes, especially the sad ones. #Cannes19
— Stuart Oldham (@s_oldham) May 16, 2019
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While critical reception has mostly been positive, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw was not completely accepting of Egerton’s performance, it seems, and Eric Kohn also wasn’t entirely keen on the film.
Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman is a good-natured biopic-slash-jukebox-musical with Taron Egerton gamely doing a middleweight impersonation, more comfortable with the lighter side, better at the tiaras than the tantrums. Review later #Cannes2019 #Cannes72 #Cannes
— Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1) May 16, 2019
If you were wondering what a great Elton John biopic looks like, don’t hold your breath. But at least ROCKETMAN doesn’t skimp on the music. #cannes
— erickohn (@erickohn) May 16, 2019
Thankfully, despite past reports that Paramount had been gunning to remove homosexual content from the film, it seems Rocketman doesn’t steer clear of Elton John’s sexuality. As The New York Times’ Kyle Buchanan notes, the movie isn’t shy when it comes to showcasing gay sex.
Pleasantly surprised that ROCKETMAN does not skimp on the gay sex, but the gayest thing about the movie is still Taron Edgerton insisting he’s fat when he isn’t
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 16, 2019
Even though it’s only premiered at Cannes, fans won’t have to wait long to watch it for themselves. The Dexter Fletcher-directed biopic is set to hit theaters later this month on May 31st. Considering how Bohemian Rhapsody released to mixed reviews – some critics took issue with the depiction of Freddie Mercury’s career and sexuality – we’re hopeful that Rocketman doesn’t play fast and loose with the life and times of Elton John.