Instep Today

Rocketman launch: Elton John musical biopic blasts off in world premiere that lights up Cannes

Instep Today
By Pete Hammond
Sat, 05, 19

“Even if the movie doesn’t make one penny – which will kill Jim Gianopulos – it is the movie I wanted to make, and that doesn’t happen often,” said no one other than Elton John this past Thursday as he proceeded to sing his signature ‘I’m Still Standing’ at the Carlton Beach after-party for the world premiere of the movie all about himself, Rocketman. Paramount chose the 72nd Cannes Film Festival to launch its big summer hope, and if reaction with a seven-minute standing ovation was any indication, it is a hit.

Gianopulos, the Paramount chairman, was certainly enthusiastic when I caught up with him at the party. He noted that star Taron Egerton, who gives the first performance I have seen in 2019 guaranteed to be an Oscar contender, actually used Elton’s classic ‘Your Song’ as an audition to get into his drama school. He was clearly fated to play Sir Elton from that moment on, even if Tom Hardy was once touted for the role in which he planned to lip sync to John’s original tracks. Thank god that didn’t happen – Egerton is the real deal as Elton.

Gianopulos also noted that the studio was happy to go along with the movie Elton wanted to make, even if some scenes sent it into R-rated territory. John Reid, by the way, was nowhere in sight in Cannes this past week, but after a six-month period in which he also came off poorly as Queen’s manager in Bohemian Rhapsody, I would stay away too. “Maybe in 10 years we will do something about him,” Madden laughed as I pointed out the recent influx of Reid portrayals on screen.

It is not always easy to play someone still living and do them justice, but Egerton is, in a word, remarkable in the role in which he sensationally does all his own singing. That’s right, no lip syncing as Rami Malek did in Bohemian Rhapsody and still won the Best Actor Oscar. Egerton sounds like Elton but also fully captures the rock star’s spirit and passion in his interpretations of that immortal songbook. It may be the best musical performance since Sissy Spacek’s Oscar-winning turn as Loretta Lynn in 1980’s Coal Miner’s Daughter. Malek and Jamie Foxx in Ray were terrific, but they were helped by using the original tracks of the iconic star they played. Egerton is working without a net and succeeds brilliantly not only in the numerous musical sequences but also in this highly dramatic story that dares not to portray John as a saint, but rather a man who was — as the opening scene in an AA meeting depicts — addicted to just about every bad substance and thing you could be addicted to. John’s husband David Furnish was one of the producers and he told me it was a long road to get it made but was the version they wanted to see on the screen. – Courtesy: Deadline