ROCKETMAN – Trailer

Directed by Dexter Fletcher. Starring Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, and Bryce Dallas Howard. Paramount Pictures releasing on May 31, 2019.

The 2019 edition of the Cannes Film Fest ends today.  Of the 36 or so movies that I have seen, many were good ones, but only two were really enjoyable, almost (but not quite) defying critical scrutiny.  Those were the world premieres of Elton John’s musical biopic Rocketman, which played out of com[etition, and Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, the director’s return to form and his best film since Pulp Fiction in 1994!

The screening of Paramount’s biopic of Elton John, starring Taron Egerton as the legendary musician, drew a 4-minute standing ovation, then Tarantino’s picture bested it with a 6-minute ovation!

Despite some shortcomings in the writing department, Rocketman is glitzy and enjoyable, if also old-fashioned and conventional in its narrative structure to capture the various eccentricities of John, who is 73.

John, Egerton, director Dexter Fletcher and co-stars Richard Madden and Bryce Dallas Howard were all in attendance at the special out-of-competition gala screening at the Palais’ Grand Theatre Lumiere.

John produced the film with partner David Furnish, Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling and David Reid, and the whole team joined in for the festivities.

During the screening, the audience broke into spontaneous applause during the performances of “Your Song” and “I’m Still Standing.”

After the showing, John and Egerton were moved to tears by the audience and embraced several times.

In an impromptu move, Fletcher grabbed the microphone and thanked the crowd for their response, saying, “We’re absolutely blown away by your fantastic reception.”

John has an estate in nearby Nice, some 20 minutes from Cannes. He has spent time in the Belle Epoque villa surrounded by the parklands of Mont Boron since the 1990s.

As for the film and festival debut, the singer-songwriter seemed very pleased, claiming, “I didn’t think it was Taron. I thought it was me. That’s the highest compliment I can give.”

British actor Taron Egerton is flattered by comparisons between his Elton John musical Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody, last year’s smash hit about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

“I’m proud that we’re mentioned in the same breath,” says Egerton, who plays John in the upcoming “Rocketman,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to standing ovation on Thursday night.

“That film has been such a phenomenon, and rightly so. I can’t remember who did that who finished it off.”

Egerton was referring to director Dexter Fletcher, who stepped in to complete “Bohemian Rhapsody” after Bryan Singer was fired from that troubled production. Fletcher also made “Rocketman,” which he worked on from start to finish.

Rami Malek, who won this year’s best actor Oscar for the film, lip syncs to Queen’s songs. Egerton belts out John’s greatest hits using his own voice.

“Our movie is a different animal,” Egerton said. “Our movie is a musical. It requires an actor who can sing in the lead role. For a biopic, that’s not necessary. I’m very grateful that people compare us. Hopefully, it shows that there’s an appetite for movies like this. However, that movie is a unicorn.”

Egerton appeared at a press conference with Fletcher and his co-stars—Bryce Dallas Howard (who plays John’s flighty mother) and Richard Madden (the singer’s exploitative ex-boyfriend and manager)—to talk about making the film.

Egerton said that he had unlimited access to John, using that opportunity to ask him about his life and legacy. “I was able to spend a lot of time with him and talk to him about everything,” Egerton said.

Egerton even got to stay along with his girlfriend at John’s home for a few nights. “We got quite drunk one night,” Egerton said, telling a story about how his head of security caught him raiding the kitchen at 3 a.m. “He’s allowed me to get to know him away from the pomp and ceremony of his life. And being able to get under his skin in that way was really helpful.”

Comparisons between Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman are inevitable for several reasons.

Both films are about gay British glam rockers who were most popular in the 1970s and 1980s.

Moreover, the director of Rocketman, Dexter Fletcher, was the one recruited to complete Bohemian Rhapsody after the original director Bryan Singer was fired.

I think the Elton John biopic is superior to last year’s Freddie Mercury biopic: It is more emotionally touching, more inventive in its use of music, and more direct and upfront in dealing with John’s homosexuality.

And once again, Taron Egerton really sings–and sings well.  Even Elton John was moved to tears by his singing and performance.

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