Bohemian Rhapsody is a slickly produced and totally surface-level look at the non-classifiable band, Queen. This is a film that is more interested in celebrating the music of a popular group rather than giving an honest examination of the artists and lifestyle choices that were behind the musicians biggest hits. However, the last passage of the picture which chronicles their triumphant concert performance at Live Aid in 1985 is spellbinding and truly delivers on the promise briefly hinted at in the film’s opening act.
The film is bookended with Queen’s outstanding performance at Live Aid, but than flashes back to the early days of Farrokh Bulsara aka Freddie Mercury. The closeted, shy buck-toothed Farrokh approaches a band after their lead singer quits. He presents them with a song he’s written and almost immediately the group is formed and the swaggering Freddie Mercury persona is born. Fame comes quickly on the success of genre-mashing hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “We Will Rock You.” However, the band’s differing needs and Mercury’s increasing complicated love life begin to form a rift in the creative and emotional stability of the group.
Rami Malek’s performance cannot be overlooked at the Oscars, he is absolutely deserving of the Academy’s recognition in the Best Actor category. The film itself is entertaining and fun, but I’m not sure that is the appropriate way to approach the complicated story of Freddie Mercury and his extremely talented band mates. As is, the movie is solely focused on Mercury’s life and this gives Malek an opportunity to fully embody the singer with an uncommon proficiency. If you want to see a film that truly looks at the creative process of musical genius I’d recommend Love & Mercy, a movie that is far more realistic and intelligent than Bohemian Rhapsody. But if you want the fairy tale-like retelling of the Queen story accompanied by outstanding acting and equally great music then Rhapsody will provide just that.
Director: Bryan Singer, Dexter Fletcher
Stars: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee