Already praised by critics prior to its release, Rocketman details Elton John's meteoric rise to fame starting from the very beginning with his childhood and his relationship with his parents.
In numerous interviews, John recalls his father as being strict and dismissive, but Elton John's relationship with his mother, Sheila Dwight, seemed a bit more complicated. She is credited with igniting John's love of pop music. The legendary performer said that he was closer to his mother, but in the same article, he describes times where they went years without speaking. The surreal biopic (which was produced by John) offers fans, both new and old, a look at John's formative years in the suburbs of London when he was still known as Reginald Dwight, including some rather harsh moments between mother and son.
"I suppose my mum and dad must have been in love once, but there wasn’t much sign they ever had been by the time I came along. They gave every impression of hating each other. My dad was strict and remote and had a terrible temper; my mum was argumentative and prone to dark moods," John wrote in a personal essay for The Guardian earlier this year. "When they were together, all I can remember are icy silences or screaming rows. The rows were usually about me, how I was being brought up."
One scene from the film serves as a visceral portrayal of their relationship when Dwight responds to John coming out to her over the phone before his Royal Albert Hall performance. Despite his manager and partner John Reid's advice against it, John looks for support from his mother as he struggles with substance abuse. Dwight's response levels John. She tells him that he will end up living a lonely and loveless life as a gay man. "The more I learned, the more I realized that it was truly a deeply and profoundly [dysfunctional] relationship," Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Dwight in the film, said to Cosmopolitan.
Their relationship would become highly-publicised by tabloids before becoming estranged in 2008. Rumors about their reportedly chilly relationship have continued to swirl, including claims that she left John out of the majority of her will and hired an Elton John impersonator for a birthday party.
The supposed reason for their falling out was over Dwight remaining close with John's former manager and driver, John Reid and Bob Halley, after John asked his mother to cut ties. "I told him: 'I’m not about to do that and drop them. Bob is like a son to me. He has always been marvelous to me and he lives nearby and keeps an eye on me,'' said Dwight in a 2015 interview with the Daily Mail. "I had no intention of dropping John and Bob and I told Elton so. He told me I thought more of Bob Halley than I did of my own son."