I thought this was great, although it didn’t make for easy watching despite the fun fantasy musical sequences. I love the fact that a “fat boy from Pinner” became an international superstar, and continues to be one after all the years; but I’m so sorry that he’s had to go through so much. Life can be very hard: we screw ourselves up, and other people screw us up. I felt as if everyone should have jumped up and joined in with the “I’m Still Standing” happy ending … although, being a bit of an old romantic, I wish it’d jumped forward and finished with his wedding to David Furnish, rather than everyone dancing around on a beach 🙂 . I also feel really old: I’ve got Elton John albums on tape, and I remember when Dexter Fletcher, who directed this film, was in Press Gang!
It’s quite an unusual film, because you’ve got the big musical sequences – and it can’t be easy fitting songs into someone’s life story, rather than making a film like Mamma Mia! or Sunshine on Leith where the story’s written to fit in with the songs – and the flamboyant costumes, but you’ve also got a real human being’s real pain. I hadn’t realised he’d suffered from eating disorders, but his issues with alcoholism and cocaine addiction are well-known. They’re all played out on the screen, all tied in with his difficult relationships with his parents, and with his one-time manager and boyfriend John Reid. I believe there’s been some criticism of the way Reid’s portrayed in the film, but we can’t know what went on behind closed doors so can’t really comment on that.
The film did seem to emphasise the lows rather than the highs. As I’ve said, I’d like to have seen it show him finding him happiness with David Furnish. And, come to that, I’d like to have seen a bit more about Watford! What about them getting to the 1984 Cup Final?! It started off with a group therapy session, which rather set the tone. He’s achieved so much: he’s sung so many iconic songs, sold so many records. I’d like to have seen a bit more emphasis on the positives. But, having said that, the film’s showing us how he struggled behind the flamboyant act and the brilliant music, and anyone who’s ever had issues with self-hatred and addiction and eating disorders will feel for him. Well, everyone will feel for him, I hope. And maybe anyone who’s opposing the teaching of LGBT equality in schools will see how Elton John struggled with being expected to hide his true self, and think twice about their attitudes … although they probably won’t, because they probably won’t go to see the film.
There is a happy ending. We’re told that he’s been sober for 28 years, and we’re shown pictures of the real Elton John – Sir Elton John, I should say! – with his husband and children and doing his charity work. Not all life stories of celebs who’ve struggled with themselves and addiction turn out happily. All too many have ended in tragedy. I’m so pleased that things have worked out for him. I’m sure he still has his moments – I’ve seen him in concert twice, and the first time he had a tantrum and walked off early, although the second time he was wonderful – but hopefully there aren’t too many of them any more.
And what a singer, and what a pianist. The music’s great. The music’s always great! And, if you haven’t seen it already – I’m a bit late to the party because I’ve been busy with tennis and days out!! – this is definitely a film worth seeing.