Two legends & two cautionary tales of pain, glory

Fletcher’s Rocketman on Elton and Kapadia’s Diego Maradona in out-of-competition sections.

A short man dressed as a very orange, very blingy and upright phoenix, with red-black feathers bracketing his entire torso and closing above the antelope horns on his head, strides into a room like an anxious tantrum looking for a large space and an audience to do its thing.

Men and women are sitting in a sombre circle, waiting to tell tales of how they hit rock bottom and finally got to this Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

The orange, rhinestone-encrusted phoenix-man in lycra drops a few feathers while announcing, with affecting informality, that he is addicted to more than just alcohol. There's also drugs, sex, shopping, bulimia… And he is gay.

But above all, he says over the course of the confessional, it is Reginald Kenneth Dwight's desperate need for love, a hug from his cold father, and his casually callous mother's words - that he will never know true love - that haunt him and drive him crazy even now, despite being one of the best-selling artists in the world who now goes by the name, Elton John.

On July 5, 1984, a small car drives through Naples, Italy, to the Stadio San Paolo where 85,000 fans are screaming while waiting to welcome their saviour, Diego Armando Maradona, then 24 years old, barely five feet-five inches, and bought from Barcelona for a world-record fee.

The press conference that follows is both ecstatic and tense, with fans chanting ‘Maradona’ while the chairman of Napoli club, Corrado Ferlaino, screams at and tries to eject a reporter for suggesting that the club has links with the Camorra, Naples’ Mafia-type crime syndicate.

Local newspapers and TV commentators say that despite the lack of ‘houses, schools, buses, employment and sanitation’ in penniless, impoverished Naples, people didn't care about the money splurged because Maradona was their ‘saviour.’

Over the next seven years, Maradona will take Napoli, the team from the south of Italy that had never won a single league title, to its most successful era ever.

Director Dexter Fletcher's Rocketman, a musical and a biopic, that tells the story of Elton John's breakout years, and Asif Kapadia's documentary, Diego Maradona, which sifts through 500 hours of video footage from Maradona's personal archive, to tell the story of the rise and fall of the football legend, played in out-of-competition sections at Festival de Cannes.

Both films tell the stories of two living legends, and the cautionary tale coiled around their pain and glory. In Rocketman, which presents the piano prodigy as an emotionally troubled, self-made musical genius, Taron Egerton plays John, and has sung all the songs.

The film focuses on both - Elton John's extravagant lifestyle, costumes, theatrical but stunning and flawless on-stage performances, but also the real, slightly pathetic man-child who dwells inside all the shiny, psychedelic, outrageous personas he creates, craving love, acceptance.

Diego Maradona: Rebel. Hero. Hustler. British director Kapadia's third and last instalment in a trilogy about child prodigies who struggled with fame.

It follows Senna, his documentary on the race car driver who died at the age of 34 in a crash, and Oscar-winning Amy, about singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse and her tragic death at 27.

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