As someone who grew up on the music of Queen, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin, I was ecstatic when I heard about Bohemian Rhapsody. It looked like it would be an epic tribute to a legendary band and Freddie Mercury specifically. After anticipating its release for almost a year, there had been plenty of time to build up my expectations for the film. In many ways, this film surprised me, and while it met or surpassed my expectations in most areas, there were moments where it definitely did not live up to my standards, detracting from what could have been a great film.
Incredible performances carry the film
If nothing else, this film is worth seeing for the performances alone. Every single cast member did an amazing job with difficult roles and the tough job of portraying real people rather than characters. The cast was led by the absolutely phenomenal performance of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, who carried the film on his back. When actors are playing real people, it is often difficult to see the real person rather than viewing it as the actor’s portrayal of them. However, I almost immediately stopped seeing “Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury” and just saw Freddie Mercury. It takes an incredible actor to be able to lose themselves in the role to the point that they are unrecognizable, and Malek did just that. His performance was moving, troubled, and deeply human.
Another standout within the cast was Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin, Mercury’s former fiancé. She had the difficult task of matching Malek’s energy to portray the extremely complex relationship that Mercury and Austin shared throughout their lives. She and Malek had wonderful chemistry and she did a fantastic job portraying the complicated emotional journey Austin went through as Mercury’s lover and life-long friend.
A celebration of Mercury and Queen
Bohemian Rhapsody is a terrific biopic, but it must be viewed as such to be enjoyed. If viewers go in expecting a singular, linear plot line they will probably not enjoy this film. Also, if viewers want to see a film about Queen as a whole, this probably will not work for them. However, if people want to see the journey and all the highs and lows of Freddie Mercury’s strange and fascinating life, then they should give Bohemian Rhapsody a shot. When looked at through the lens of a biopic about Mercury specifically, this movie is a huge success. It shows Mercury at his absolute highest and lowest, portraying him as a talented but very troubled artist. It also reveals aspects of his life that most casual Queen fans would not have known about, like his relationship with Mary, his extravagant parties and his attempt at a solo career.
The movie is also strong as a musical tribute. It clearly delineates the different eras of Queen and how their sound and style developed and changed over time. The sound mixing is also very well done; it is not very noticeable that Malek is lip-synching, and every number has the energy and raw emotion of a live performance. Additionally, many of the transitions in the movie were edited to stylistically resemble many of Queen’s music videos and their overall “look,” seamlessly immersing the audience further into the world of Queen and their rock and roll aesthetic. Also, the recreations of Queen music videos and live performances were very accurate and the attention-to-detail was clear, with the exception of the Live Aid audience at the end, which was very obviously created using CGI. This was an unfortunate choice from the filmmakers as it took away from one of the most important moments in the film and distracted the audience from an otherwise incredibly authentic recreation of the actual event.
Some rough patches
Despite incredible performances and strength as a biopic, this movie still fell flat in several areas. The pacing of the movie was definitely an issue; with a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutes, viewers could definitely feel the length. Despite its valiant attempts, Bohemian Rhapsody never quite reached the point where the audience was so immersed that they completely lost track of time, which made the film seem to drag on for unnecessarily long.
Additionally, the pacing of events within the movie was a bit difficult to follow; there were multiple seemingly random jumps where the film flashed forward several years without making it clear what had transpired in the time that was not shown. This was not the only problem with how the movie was scripted; some moments also felt contrived or overly cheesy due to the structure of the dialogue rather than the actors’ performances. Along with the script issues, some of the editing and cutting of footage was a bit jarring within scenes, particularly during the Live Aid sequence at the end, which did, unfortunately, detract from the incredible performance on stage.
Featured Image: IMDb
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