Film Reviews

Madhuri reviews Elton John’s biopic.

Rocketman posterRocketman
2 hrs, 1 min
Paramount Pictures
Director: Dexter Fletcher

Taron Egerton, John Reid, Richard Madden, Janie Bwell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Charlie rowe, Gemma Jones, Steven Macintosh; with Matthew Illesley as the young Elton

Was/is your family a rotten mess, with its share of assholes, drama queens, paedophiles, absent dads, bullies, and addicts? Mine was; though it had its good points too.

Philip Larkin’s immortal poem was brimming in my mind as I came out into the rain with tears on my cheeks after seeing Rocketman, the new Elton John biopic:

This Be the Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

What a great movie! It’s a musical, but it never got a foot wrong – each song was emotionally connected, and unafraid of the anguish these rotten families bring to themselves. It was fast-paced but long – lots to get in – and we were right there with all of it.

Elton’s dad ignored or scorned him, his mother was a cold, buxom bitch (who told him that if he was gay he would “never be properly loved”), and his longtime handsome Scottish lover/manager used and bullied him. Only his granny was as she should have been – it was she who took him to his classes at the Royal Academy of Music when he was a child, and gave him encouragement. His talent showed from an early age, and in his teens he graduated from Classical to Rock n Roll… and the rest is history.

Taron Egerton inhabits the title role with full enthusiasm – apparently the real Elton John is delighted with the movie, saying it is him.

The rehab scenes bring in therapy-we-have-known – and grateful we are for it! Elton only goes to rehab when his ruinous millionaire lifestyle and thrice-broken heart leave him nowhere else to turn… but it works for him in the end; profoundly so.

It’s a movie about awful families, loyal buddies, self-destruction – and renewal, detox, and the joys of ordinary sobriety. At the end we are told that Elton has been with his husband David Furnish for twenty-five years now, and is finally “properly loved – ” and we are so grateful. That’s when the tears flow.

A very worthwhile movie about the power of music, the necessity of therapy, and the essentialness of love.

I wasn’t the only teary one in the place!


Madhuri is a healer, artist, poet and author of several books.

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