Dexter Fletcher delivers Rocketman

Rocketman launches in Australian cinemas May 30

A new trailer for the upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman has just been released. Charting the rise of the iconic musician, the film sees Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) transformed as he steps into John’s flamboyant shoes.

The movie is described as a ‘musical fantasy’ with Dexter Fletcher (Eddie The Eagle, Sunshine on Leith) helming his fourth film – fifth if you count the fact he was brought in to take Bohemian Rhapsody to completion when director Bryan Singer left towards the end of principal photography.

Fletcher, also an actor (StardustBand of Brothers), was originally attached to an earlier version of the biopic about the band Queen and frontman Freddie Mercury, but parted ways with the project due to creative differences with producers. 

“We got quite far down the line with my version of Bohemian Rhapsody which, unfortunately, never came to fruition,” Fletcher told IndieWire.

With the 2019 Oscars upon us, it begs the question of what might have been. In previous years, the award-winners for Best Picture and Directing have usually been linked. But while Bohemian Rhapsody is nominated at this year’s Academy Awards, there was no chance Singer was going to get a nod after allegations of sexual misconduct. 

Since only one director can officially be recognised on a film by the Director’s Guild of America, Fletcher doesn’t get an official credit for his work, which included overseeing key scenes between Mercury (Rami Malek) and his lover Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton).

There’s an air of humility to Fletcher’s take on the situation. 

“I was lucky to have a really good input to something,” Fletcher told IndieWire. “But it’s really about watching what had been already created and being part of that. I was looking at two complete [acts] in a good film, and [I had to] not let it down.”

Director Dexter Fletcher on the set of Sunshine on Leith. Image: eOne
Director Dexter Fletcher on the set of Sunshine on Leith. Image: eOne

One could argue the reason Bohemian Rhapsody has been raking in the awards this season (Malek’s impressive performance aside) is due to the work Singer already put in. But I would argue it takes a true professional to come in at the eleventh hour, leave any preconceptions and ego at the door, and guide a film to the finish line while staying true to the direction already in place.

It could have ended up a tonal mess. What we have is a cohesive and entertaining drama that many believe honours Mercury, even if it could have delved deeper into certain aspects of his life and stops short of his death from AIDS complications in 1991.

Still, it will be interesting to make comparisons when Rocketman hits cinemas on May 30. Will we get a more ‘warts-and-all’ portrayal of John than we got of Mercury?

Based on the trailer, we can be assured Fletcher is delivering a colourful, rip-roaring ride to superstardom told through the prism of John’s most iconic tunes.

Rocketman is in Australian cinemas from May 30.

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