Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
There are certain people who come into this world, this galaxy, and shine so bright that they were meant to be stars. These people they’re not like most of us, there is something so unique, so shiny, so different, that we can’t help, but stare. It’s an explicable touch of feeling, but they have that special something that we cannot take our eyes off them and we sit there like addicts wanting more. Freddie Mercury or Farrokh Bulsara, was one of those people. He gave music fans around the world something special and just like that in 45 years he was gone. The biopic film Bohemian Rhapsody directed by Brian Singer, tells the story of not only Mercury, but of the band. How they came into existence and how they were catapulted into fame with their iconic hit songs.
Mercury (Rami Malek) was a baggage handler at Heathrow airport who happens upon the band Smile. While he sips his pint, he looks around at the audience and is enthralled by the buzz of the concert. On his way to meet the band, he meets Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), and from there springs a love story that will last his entire lifetime. Call it kismet or good luck, the band’s lead singer ditches them, and they need a front man. When Mercury approaches them, he tells them he can sing. With his overbite and shaggy hair, he doesn’t appear to the singer of their dreams, but when he belts out a tune they immediately hire him on.
From there it happens fast, he goes from the shy Parsi boy from Zanzibar to the lead singer of one of the most iconic and enthralling bands of time. The film showcases his gift for song writing and how the band’s different energies made the songs unique. Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), the drummer, was the staunch critic who always put up a fight against a lyric or riff, then there is guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), who has a knack and flair for knowing how to fit the melodies together (oh and he came up with the infamous clap-back idea for We Are The Champions), and the pacifist of the group bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) who came up with many of the ingenious lyrics and chords of their songs.
I don’t have to tell you what happened to the Titanic, everyone knows the story, same for the band Queen. Everyone knows the songs, the lyrics, and what happened to Mercury. The film glosses over much of Mercury’s life as a gay man and as someone who contracted and died of AIDS, instead we get hazy scenes of gay clubs and truck stops, and the audience can seemingly understand what was going on in his life. This is not Dallas Buyers Club, you will not see Mercury go through a harrowing collapse or whittle down to 100 pounds. This is not that type of movie.
The focus instead is on his relationship with Austin, whom he loved from the day he met, and eventually married and begged to never take off her wedding ring. She was there from the start till the day he died. After he confesses to her that he is bisexual, she tells him that he is gay, and she knew it all along. That is their relationship, she supports him through thick and thin and is always there to pick him back up.
The movie showcases the band’s rise to stardom, how Mercury is thrown off base by manager Paul Prenter (Allen Leech), the dubious villain of the film, and how they come back together as a band. Just like any biopic, the film can only highlight so much, and under the tutelage of executive producers, Roger Taylor and Brian May, it is obvious that they had some input into how the movie was put together. This is their vision of the band, we don’t see a lot of down in the dumps moments, or Mercury on his deathbed, instead we see a story about a group of men bonded together for life by an experience that only they will ever understand.
What struck me the most about the film was Malek. He will undoubtedly be nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Mercury. He wears a set of teeth to mimic the singer’s and we see him as shy one minute and flamboyant and wild the next. The whole time we are watching it, we almost forget that it is not Mercury on stage, but Malek himself. This is the role he was meant to play and one that will be sealed in his acting repertoire forever.
I also couldn’t keep my eyes off of Lee, who portrayed May exactly as we have always envisioned him to be in real life. Calm, cool, and collected, yet able to wail on a guitar like no other. Also keep your eye out for Mike Meyers who funnily enough makes a cameo as music producer Ray Foster, who rejected Bohemian Rhapsody for being too long.
You will see a lot of mixed reviews about this movie. First, you need to understand that this was made for mainstream audiences, and they will love it. They will eat it up with a spoon and want to lick every edge of it off. The film delivers with the highlight reel of their most spectacular arena performances, but the true shining star of the film is Malek’s performance as the legendary singer.