Film review: Bohemian Rhapsody
A chronicle of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury, who defied stereotypes to become one the most beloved entertainers on the planet.
Queen’s music was never known as conventional or formulaic. The band experimented with everything from rock to opera and disco. Yet the highly anticipated biopic about the band’s uprising and iconic lead singer Freddy Mercury is just that – formulaic and conventional.
Bohemian Rhapsody follows the standard line of many music biopics by trying to cram in as much of the band’s history as conceivably possible in the two-hour-plus run time. This is at times to the film’s detriment, glossing over many important moments in Freddy’s life including an in-depth look into his sexuality and lifestyle, eventual AIDS diagnosis, his fractured relationship with his family and the animosity between band mates during the front man’s brief solo career.
It appears that Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor who consulted on Bohemian Rhapsody were very concerned with maintaining the legacy of Mercury, as many of the serious issues mentioned above were handled with kid gloves. The AIDS diagnosis is but a simple throwaway scene in the film, while his sexuality and open lifestyle are shown in brief montages (I hope you love a good montage, because Bohemian Rhapsody is full of them).
So they were the negatives, but did the film have any positives? YES, and his name is Rami Malek. The actor disappears in his portrayal of the legendary lead singer. Malek perfectly encapsulates everything that made Mercury such an iconic entertainer, from his charisma and magnetism on stage to his private pain when the mics are turned off and the cameras stop rolling.
Malek perfectly encapsulates everything that made Mercury such an iconic entertainer, from his charisma and magnetism on stage to his private pain when the mics are turned off and the cameras stop rolling.
A film based around Queen was always going to be reliant on whoever played Mercury. At one point, Sacha Baron Cohen was attached to star before he left due to creative differences. I’m sure Cohen would have done a commendable job, but I cannot imagine any actor eclipsing the performance of Malek, in what is a career-defining role.
And finally, the other star of the film, is the music. Queen and rock fans can rejoice as a large portion of the film plays out seemingly like a musical. There are several concert montages showing the band’s many performances across the world, as well as montages showing the band recording many of their hit songs.
Where the film truly shines, and everything comes together from the music to the Malek’s performance, is Queen’s legendary Live Aid set. Bohemian Rhapsody boldly culminates with Queen’s legendary 1985 performance in near entirety. One thing is for certain, the film sticks the landing with the Live Aid set rocking audiences. The screening I was in erupted in applause after the set. I was almost shocked people in the cinema didn’t start swaying their mobile phone from side to side or break out in song with Mercury/Malek.
Ultimately, Bohemian Rhapsody is a fun ride but one that is devoid of any real depth. Key moments in Mercury’s life, such as his AIDS diagnosis, are superficial at best. It’s lucky Rami Malek’s performance and Queen’s music outweighs many of the narrative’s shortcomings, but much is still left to be desired.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers, Ben Hardy, Aiden Gillen, Gwilym Lee, Tom Hollander.
If you liked the movie, try:
Straight Outta Compton, Walk the Line, Sid and Nancy, Jersey Boys, Rock Star.
Save up to 40% on movie tickets
Enjoy discounted movie tickets with your RACQ membership at Event Cinemas and BCC Cinemas and catch all the hottest new releases. Get rewarded with discounts across adult, child and Gold Class tickets and complete the experience with our candy bar vouchers.