“Bohemian Rhapsody” is for the people who only know “We Will Rock You,” and for the die-hard Queen fans too, it’s an enjoyable film regardless of familiarity with the band or not (or for fans of Rami Malek).
Though it lacks some of the raunchier details of Freddie Mercury’s life and pulls the audience through certain scenes with quick montages, Malek’s strong performance and the energizing ending is what really pulls the film together.
The beginning of the film is logical, establishing Mercury’s attitude early on before it plunges into the creation of Queen after a spot opens up in Mercury’s favorite local band. Though this part of the movie is interesting, the audience is left with fragments of performances and little about how Queen progressed as a young band after its formation.
This is where an otherwise great film falters. Director Bryan Singer seemed to attempt to mirror the feeling of living in the fast lane with montages and time jumps. However, these quick scene progressions register as unsatisfying, showing less of the band and, even more notably, less of Mercury’s evolution as a performer.
Another aspect the film could have focused on more is Mercury’s sexuality and personal life. The rockstar’s persona is slightly sanitized at times, and his important relationship with his long-term lover Jim Hutton, who appears in few scenes, is barely touched on. In a Vanity Fair interview, Malek commented on aspects of Mercury’s personality that were anything but tame.
“The fact of the matter, that he would freely admit, was that one of Freddie Mercury’s hobbies was sex,” Malek said to Vanity Fair. “He was very promiscuous.”
Since the film does not include some of the more “promiscuous” sides of Mercury, it does not fulfill its potential in terms of telling an in-depth and accurate story of his life.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Malek also criticized the choice not to expand on Mercury’s relationship with Hutton.
“Believe me: There were conversations left and right about how to incorporate more of that story into this film,” Malek said. “It was something I pushed for, to be quite honest, as much as possible and repeatedly brought to the attention of producers and directors and everyone who would listen.”
Aside from the failure to explore Mercury’s romantic relationships fully, the performances from actors who played the members of Queen were exceptional. It is obvious the actors put in an immense amount of work to do justice to their roles as the rock ‘n’ roll legends.
From Gwilym Lee’s convincing performance as the mediating and talented guitarist Brian May, to Malek’s performance as the flamboyant and confident Mercury, it’s no wonder that I felt as if I was watching the icons themselves.
On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Malek explained his experience with not only preparing to act in the film, but also preparing to show his singing abilities to the members of Queen themselves.
It is clear that acting in the film required a great deal of preparation, not to mention that the actors had to get approval from the former members as well.
Even with such high stakes, the actors not only succeed in doing the icons justice, but they are one of the strongest aspects of the film.
Another aspect of the film that really shines is the ending. The re-creation of the 1985 “Live Aid” performance is spectacular, visually and emotionally. With the energy radiating from the stage, the actors doing an incredible job. I almost felt like I was there at the festival. The performance does not just capture Mercury’s drive and love for music, but it is a perfect contrast to the previous melancholy scenes where he is overwhelmed by loneliness and the realization that he had contracted HIV.
Arguably, it is a perfect scene to end on. It ties in to the larger themes of Mercury’s ambition and Queen’s greatness as a whole and avoids dwelling on his death.
Overall, “Bohemian Rhapsody” succeeds in creating a cut-and-dry type of journey through the life of Freddie Mercury and Queen. It is an enjoyable movie with strong performances, beautiful concert scenes and an ending that unexpectedly made me happy and inspired rather than sad as I had expected.
The film does what it set out to do, which was to create a movie that highlighted Mercury’s life and celebrated him as the authentic and revolutionary person he was. Though it could have dared to include more in-depth scenes and details about the icon’s life, and spared the audience from a whirlwind of montages, the movie still fares pretty well.