Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody will rock you and roll you, headlined by Rami Malek giving it his all playing the band’s lead singer, Freddy Mercury.
Bohemian Rhapsody is an assortment of things, and I think there lies one of the few problems I had with the film. The film is sometimes a Freddy Mercury biopic, which likes to focus in on his life and personal relationships and struggles. But a great deal of the other time, the movie likes to depict the creation of popular songs and then them being performed. While both ends of the stick are fun to watch, or sometimes harrowingly sad, the film never decides what it wants to be: A Queen biopic, or a Freddy Mercury biopic? Both roads would’ve lead to a strong movie, but instead they are fused together into one.
Rami Malek disappears into the role of Freddy Mercury on and off the stage. Malek perfects Mercury’s onstage moves with his own vigor, while offstage, conveying the fear of being alone with quiet realism. In one poignant scene, Malek looks up at the window of his ex-wife’sformer apartment, turning on and off the light but receiving no response; Mercury at this moment may have a room for each cat, but he has no true friends to fill them. It is in this great big house of his, sometimes full of strangers, sometimes full of no one at all, in which we truly feel Mercury’s lows.
The band dynamic is strong but could’ve been stronger if the film chose to focus on it more. More time spent depicting how some songs were written and created or more screen time devoted to the behind-the-scenes of the band could’ve helped build that familial relationship they develop; towards the latter half of the film, it becomes more and more Mercury based and we lose touch with Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon. The band grows successful exponentially fast in the film and the beginnings of Queen could’ve been more showcased. Once again this comes down to, is it a Queen movie or a Freddie Mercury movie?
But where the film made me happiest was in its soundtrack. An excellent selection of Queen’s work plays throughout and each time a song came on it put a smile on my face. Where the film is the most memorable is in its grand finale: The Live-Aid performance. Possibly Queen’s most important live performance, the concert is masterfully brought back to life because of the amount of energy and emotion poured into the scene from the cast members and the sound crew. This is where the film is at its best.
Under pressure to succeed in honoring Freddie and Queen’s legacy, Bohemian Rhapsody delivers a nostalgic roller coaster ride even fans not overly familiar with the band can enjoy (as their music is global). 8/10