Rocketman lands admirably rich alcohol story

Rocketman, a biopic of Elton John starring Taron Egerton, offers a compelling account of the veteran piano prima-donna’s life story, successfully interweaving his journey into and out of alcohol and other drug issues.

His alcohol and cocaine use quietly tiptoes up behind him, the viewer’s mind screaming louder and louder, “He’s behind you,” in the powerless agony of a child who spies a baddie at a Christmas pantomime.

While this silent threat looms ever larger, scene by scene, the story tirelessly flips between the flamboyant and introspective, the comical and tragic, the loud and the quiet, and the serious and the absurd.

The emotional load of this makes the musical interludes a much-needed emotional release. These numbers grow organically out of the story-line and are beautifully choreographed and energetically performed.

Perhaps the most touching of these numbers is the chillingly alienated underwater rendition of the song Rocketman of the title. It conveys poignantly the loneliness and disconnection of alcohol and drug problems.

Whether or not you are an Elton John fan there is much to be learned and enjoyed in this telling of his life story, in which alcohol, drugs and then 25 years without them are critical elements.

Egerton goes through more costumes in two hours than many of us in a lifetime. But, more impressively, he manages to admirably capture a combination of defiance and acceptance that allows many to start again. ■