Amid its mixed reviews, including some harsh ones, “Bohemian Rhapsody” still soared through its opening weekend, earning $141 million worldwide. The film narrates the story of rock band Queen’s formation and worldwide success, all while depicting the alluring persona of frontman Freddie Mercury, portrayed by “Mr. Robot’s” Rami Malek. Expectations and opinions aside, viewers will leave theaters air-guitaring the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody” guitar solo, imitating the stomp-stomp-clap of “We Will Rock You” or humming any another catchy Queen tune under their breath.
RAMI MALEK DELIVERS
In order to transform into the eccentric Mercury of the film, Malek said he studied Queen’s lyrics very closely, finding that he poured his heart and soul into the words he penned.
“I looked at them almost as a diary,” Malek said in a Vanity Fair interview.
Malek’s study sessions have certainly paid off. While many may not particularly favor the film, most critics across the board rave about his stellar performance. From his eyeliner to the slick back hair and bushy mustache, Malek embodies the different phases of Mercury down to a tee, even imitating the late performer’s renowned overbite. Malek’s picture-perfect performance eventually leads viewers to grasp the complexities of his dramatic life.
From the very beginning, Malek portrays Mercury as a confident man. In the scene where Mercury meets the band “Smile,” he effortlessly sings a few bars, hoping the band will recruit him. Mercury then credits his generous vocal range to the four extra incisors he was born with. Eventually, the existing members welcome Mercury into the band and then officially change the name to Queen, upon Mercury’s suggestion.
Shortly after Queen’s formation, Mercury meets Mary Austin, portrayed by Lucy Boynton, who would be Mercury’s partner for years until Mercury reveals his bisexuality to her. However, as the movie progresses, we see the pair remain lifelong friends as Mercury considers Austin the love of his life.
The film embraces the dark life Mercury lived after Queen’s success, portraying him as busy yet lonely. After his split with Austin, Mercury has a fling with Paul Prenter, portrayed by Allen Leech, who encourages Mercury to pursue a solo career. This begins a stage in his life of excessive parties, drugs and sex that eventually lead to tragedy. These constant nights of partying ultimately leave Mercury unsatisfied, leaving him to many nights in solitude with his cats. Ultimately, the film shows the sadness and destruction that resulted from Mercury’s continual habits.
“Being human is a condition that requires a little anesthesia,” Mercury said in the movie, explaining his excessive drug use.
Toward the end of the film, Mercury falls terribly ill and the film finally addresses his AIDS diagnosis. One day, as he is lying down on the sofa, a concerned Austin shows up at Mercury’s door. She expresses her concern for his newfound lifestyle and tells him to go home. After realizing how far off the path he has gone, Mercury tells Prenter he no longer wants him in his life, spurring Mercury’s mighty comeback.
The film concludes with an imitation of the band’s Live Aid performance, featuring an electric Mercury roaring up London’s Wembley Stadium, with Malek magnifying Mercury’s charming on-stage persona.
A NEW GENERATION OF QUEEN FANS
Those who watch “Bohemian Rhapsody” can expect at least one song to be stuck in their head after watching the movie, which is surely a great thing. Although Queen rose to fame in the ‘70s, their exceptional songs continue to allure music lovers of all ages. With “Bohemian Rhapsody” topping the box office, the film will only increase the band’s popularity among younger generations.
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