Over the top, larger than life and as fabulous as one can expect, Bohemian Rhapsody, celebrates the life of Freddie Mercury and the overwhelming success of Queen. Unfortunately failing to be much more than a love letter to the band, the plot does leave much to be desired in terms of its depth. However any fan of the band will find a lot to love here as Mercury is done great justice.
Following on from X-Men Apocolypse (2016) Bryan Singer directs the story of a real, larger than life hero, who has been solidified in Rock music’s history books as a legend. Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen up to their timeless performance at Live Aid in 1985. Beginning with Mercury’s dramatic introduction to the other band members in 1970 and following through with the next 15 years, this film covers a lot of ground. Unfortunately, that is likely where this film’s weaknesses come through, because whilst it is an excellent visual celebration of the band and their music, the story never really delves deep into what was happening throughout the years. We are privileged to view a reel of glimpses into Mercury’s life but sadly the whole story is never truly revealed. Events follow on from one another as though they were simply meant to happen rather than being structured into a cause and effect tale. Make no mistake there is a lot to enjoy about this film, but it is unlikely to make as lasting impression as the band’s music did.
Rami Malek gives the performance of a lifetime as the enigmatic frontman. Seemingly always wanting to be grander than everyone else in the room and at many times hiding behind that performing nature, it is unlikely that anyone else could have portrayed Mercury better. The body movements, the teeth, the dialect are all very much Freddie Mercury and it is an absolute joy to watch as a Queen fan. Freddie is captured beautifully in all his glory as he should be.
However, it is likely that due to this, every other performance throughout the film seems muted in some way. Deliberate or no the rest of the cast barely shines a candle to Malek’s performance which results in some lacklustre and forgettable performances all round. This film does have an excellent cast but it seems that all the focus was on Malek’s portrayal of Mercury and as a result, the rest seem to have been an afterthought. With the exception of Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin (Mercury’s partner) who gives an emotionally charged performance of a woman who loves a superstar, that can’t quite love her back the way she wants.
Aesthetically the film is an absolute delight. Bryan Singer has an excellent track record of delivering visually interesting films that shine through over the top cinematography that blurs the lines of reality and show business. Sweeping shots of the crowds that Queen would bring in coupled with intimate and emotional close ups create a juxtaposed tone between the stage performances and the Freddie that thrives upon, and the Freddie who lives at home and is alone much of the time.
Obviously, the soundtrack is fantastic and that goes without saying. Queen’s thundering anthems make up the majority of the soundtrack and integrated in interesting ways that will have any fan smiling. A mixture of Malek’s voice and Marc Matel’s voice (a Freddie Mercury impersonator) are used for the songs featured in the film and the result is undeniably very Mercury-esque.
If you love Queen, there’s a lot you will enjoy in this film. The music is fantastic, the aesthetic on point and the undeniable star of the show is Rami Malek. Unfortunately, if you’re going into this film for something more than just a celebration of Queen and their legacy, you won’t find it. The plot is shallow at points and much of the events appear to just be happening simply because, that’s what happened in history. There’s very little connection to how or why certain songs were written, with an exception of course for the titular masterpiece, and one leaves the cinema not necessarily knowing much more about Freddie Mercury as one went in knowing. However this film is very enjoyable simply because it is about him, it naturally follows that it is as glorious, majestic and fantastic as he was.