REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody Is A Triumphant Marvel
After what feels like an eternity, Brian Singer’s (let’s be honest, Dexter Fletcher was the true creator) long awaited Queen Biopic has hit the big screen and boy did it not disappoint. From the flamboyance of Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury, to the downright hilarious portrayal of EMI executive Ray Foster played by Mike Myers, this film is the creative masterpiece we seemed to be promised when first announced.
The film surprisingly starts where it finishes: a long walk following Freddie to the stage at, what some consider the most important performance in rock history, the 1985 Live Aid concert at the old Wembley Stadium in London. The film then flashes back to 1970 right before Queen was formed. We meet the young rebellious Farroukh Bulsara (later Freddie Mercury) in his parents’ home getting ready for a night out. We get a glimpse at how unpleased Freddie’s father is with the changes in his life: first changing his name to Freddie, then changing his last name from Bulsara to the iconic Mercury. The film’s first act reveals how Queen was formed and how four unlikely young men became one of the world’s biggest rock bands.
The film is an incredible piece of art that has rarely been seen in theaters recently and feels like a breath of fresh air for the Biopic genre. Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, and Joseph Mazzello shine on screen as Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon respectively caused by the actors’ chemistry together being almost, if not, perfect.
Some parts of the film did seem a little duller than others, but nothing was staler as a single plot point played out throughout the movie. The relationship between Freddie and Mary was one of passion, trust, and love. How was this translated to movie format? A melancholy and most of all underwhelming tone were given to almost every scene between the two so-called lovers. The only time where I truly believed in their supposed strong and unbreakable friendship was in the film’s third act where, back stage at Live Aid, the two have a short but seemingly sincere conversation. Apart from this single conversation, I had a very hard time being convinced of their unique bond.
The film’s second act can be clearly identified by its sense of impending disaster. Freddie is off the chain. After a Queen breakup, he starts work on two consecutive solo albums in a lavish modern looking (for the 1980’s) house in Munich living with his so called “villainous” manager Paul Prenter (Played by Allen Leech). Hosting parties every night, consuming copious amount of drugs, and having sex with sometimes multiple partners per night (presumably male partners), Freddie begins to experience symptoms of undiagnosed HIV and AIDS. Mary comes to his rescue revealing that she is pregnant with her boyfriend’s child and makes Freddie realize how much he is missing by staying locked away alone. This marks the beginning of the third and final act of the film.
The finale to this movie has scenes which are probably some of the emotionally heaviest hitting film moments I have ever experienced. From the band getting back together to the intense Live Aid performance, the movie has you on the edge of your seat. Impeccable use of the song ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ during the scene where, after getting his AIDS diagnosis, a single fan recognises Freddie and gives a single “ayyy op” to which Freddie answers the same just gave me chills and brought me to the verge of tears. The powerful message that Freddie wanted to live as long as possible to give his fans his best music yet was extremely moving.
Live Aid serves as the clear climax for the film. Having watched the concert on YouTube several times, I can confirm that the performance that Rami Malek puts on is spot on with the real thing. Well… sort of. I was amazed at how the lip syncing and exact movements that the real Freddie made were able to be pulled off. The emotional meaning of Live Aid for Freddie is definitely not lost in the film translation. Having recreated the full Live Aid set, the film gives fans a new way of seeing the world’s greatest concert from the perspective of the band. Only one thing was missing from this intense climax. Well, in fact, two things were missing. Having used ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ previously in the movie, I understand that it wasn’t possible to have them be played again during the concert, however, this seemed to take away some of the greatest parts of the performance.
In conclusion, Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic marvel that excels with both its story and extravagant set pieces. Some moments were obviously dramatized for entertainment purposes, but the film succeeds in convincing the audience that these things actually happened because of the flamboyance and theatricality Queen (and most importantly Freddie) possessed. Giving his all, I highly anticipate that Rami Malek will receive a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the lead singer. Maybe even a Best Picture nomination? Who knows! The film, from this movie-goers point of view, is an unequivocal triumph leaving me stunned and enamoured by its grandiosity. Once thinking the reign of Queen was reaching its end, I know realize that this is only the beginning. Queen truly are the champions of the world.