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Pride Week Staff Movie Review: Rocketman (plus other LGBTQ films)

Reviewed by Rosemarie Leenerts, Library Assistant

Rocketman (rated R) begins with Elton John’s entering a support group meeting while wearing a garish stage costume and admitting to his many addictions. From there, prompted by the leader’s question, John tells the story of his childhood, and so begins the film that is part musical, fantasy, and fact-based biopic.

Born Reginald Dwight and taking the stage name Elton Hercules John while performing at age 25, John’s musical genius emerges as a preteen invited to try out at the Royal Academy of Music in London. His struggles with his disapproving and cold father, doting but unfaithful mother, and his feelings of being different come to form the man who would become one of pop music’s most respected and prolific musicians and performers.

Paired with Bernie Taupin when handed a packet of his lyrics by a record studio executive and asked to put the words to music, John’s collaboration with Taupin would span decades and introduce the world to musical gems like Daniel, Your Song, and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which are performed in the movie at significant moments in John’s life.

Not a straightforward piece of storytelling, the film takes liberties with sequence, employs montages, and uses colorful devices to exemplify John’s creative genius. It also delves into darker periods of John’s life and includes his struggles while dealing with his sexuality, fame, and drug use.

Fans of Elton John’s music will enjoy the film, for which he served as an executive producer. John is portrayed by Taron Egerton, who may not bear a striking resemblance or be an exact voice match to John but still pulls off the heady role, even doing all the singing.

Other LGBTQ Films

Other critically acclaimed and recommended LGBTQ-themed films at Herrick Library include:

  • Bohemian Rhapsody—The 2019 Academy Award winner for Best Motion Picture and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Rami Malek), this is the entertaining story of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen’s rise to fame before Mercury’s demise due to AIDS. (PG-13)
  • Boys Don’t Cry—Winner of the Best Actress Oscar in 2000, Hilary Swank stars in this tragic true story of transgendered Brandon Teena in the first wide-release film focusing on a transgender man. (R)
  • Carol—Nominated for six Academy Awards in 2015, including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for the two leads (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara), this drama tells the heart-wrenching story of a woman who risks losing her child because of her love for another woman in 1950s America. (R)
  • Dallas Buyers Club—Academy Award winners Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto headline this gritty 2013 film about a heterosexual man who finds himself with AIDS and devises a way to smuggle therapeutic drugs from Mexico to help treat fellow AIDS sufferers in Texas. (R)
  • The Danish Girl—Loosely inspired by the lives of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, this 2015 drama earned a Best Actress Oscar for Alicia Vikander, who plays the wife of a fellow artist (Eddie Redmayne) who becomes an early recipient of sex reassignment surgery. (R)
  • The Favourite—This 2018 dark-comedy period film won Olivia Colman the Best Actress Academy Award and is based on the love triangle among frail Queen Anne, her close friend Lady Sarah, and a new servant, Abigail. (R)
  • Milk—Nominated for eight Academy Awards and winning the Best Actor Oscar (Sean Penn) and Best Original Screenplay in 2009, this biopic portrays the rise of Harvey Milk through the ranks of San Francisco politics to become the first openly gay person elected to public office in California before being murdered by a fellow former supervisor. (R)
  • Moonlight—Much-deserved winner of the 2017 Best Picture Oscar as well as Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Mahershala Ali) and Best Adapted Screenplay in one of the most awkward Oscar presentations in history, Moonlight is a quiet, deeply moving drama of a young black man who slowly comes to terms with his homosexuality. (R)
  • Philadelphia—This 1993 film that earned Tom Hanks his first Academy Award for Best Actor is a legal drama about a brilliant attorney in a high-powered corporate firm who loses his job when his employer suspects he has AIDS. This film brought the issue of AIDS to a mainstream audience, with powerful performances by Hanks and Denzel Washington and bookended by the music of Bruce Springsteen (the Oscar-winning “Streets of Philadelphia”) and Neil Young (the haunting “Philadelphia”). (PG-13)



Rocketman and all the films in the list are available to reserve for Curbside Pickup from Herrick Library. To make a reservation for these titles or any other:


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