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‘Rocketman’ Takes Off at Cannes With Huge Standing Ovation for Taron Egerton, Positive First Reactions

IndieWire's Anne Thompson says Taron Egerton gives a breakout performance as Elton John.


Dexter Fletcher’s “Rocketman” landed at Cannes for its world premiere May 16, and the mostly positive first reactions pouring in from press in attendance should give distributor Paramount Pictures some relief with the film’s release just two weeks away. The Elton John biopic premiered out of competition at the prestigious film festival. The cast includes “Kingsman” breakout Taron Egerton as the singer, plus Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, and Jamie Bell.

Paramount has touted “Rocketman” as an “uncensored” look at John’s early career. The film mixes traditional biopic elements with that of musical fantasy as John’s songs are dispersed throughout the story to help propel the narrative of his life. The film’s script was written by “Billy Elliot” playwright Lee Hall.

Following the movie’s premiere at Cannes, Egerton and John could be seen wiping away tears. Both men got big standing ovations from the audience in attendance, especially Egerton. The actor’s work is being positioned as an awards contender, and many believe the film’s musical elements make it a shoo-in for the Golden Globes.

Anne Thompson, IndieWire’s awards editor, was enthusiastic in her reaction and gave noted praise to Egerton: “Dexter Fletcher’s sexy dramatic and poignant ‘Rocketman’ is an ambitious full-on bio musical with 20 songs—’Your Song’ got applause— sung by star Taron Egerton in a breakout performance. Watch for it to follow boffo global box office with a run on a roadway.”

IndieWire’s chief critic Eric Kohn was left more underwhelmed. “If you were wondering what a great Elton John biopic looks like, don’t hold your breath,” he wrote on social media. “But at least ROCKETMAN doesn’t skimp on the music.”

Additional praise was shared by Variety editor Stuart Oldham (“Taron Egerton is brilliant”). The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw was more neutral on the movie, calling it “good natured” but “more comfortable with the lighter side” of John’s life. Bradshaw wrote, “It’s better at the tiaras than the tantrums.”

Paramount Pictures will release “Rocketman” in theaters nationwide May 31. Check out the first reactions from Cannes below.

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