Directed by Bryan Singer, Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of the legendary rock band Queen and its flamboyant lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Seeing how the band of four – Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joe Mazzello) – get together, the film leads up to their famous performance at Live Aid in 1985.
As a film, Bohemian Rhapsody is much like the song itself, a medley of great talent and exceptional performances with a vicissitude of highs and lows.
The film hasn’t done well as expected with critics, but that’s most likely due to it being a different kind of film to one that many were expecting. Critics wanted a revolutionary and in-depth look at Freddie’s life, but what Bohemian Rhapsody is, in fact, is a film about Queen – a brilliant celebration of one of the greatest bands of all time.
It may not be groundbreaking, but it is still an insightful story. Whilst everybody will know most of Queen’s songs, not many will know much about what was going on with the band off stage. For those, there’s a lot to learn about Freddie and the rest of the band. I didn’t realise how little I knew until I began watching this film. Learning that Freddie was born as Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar to parents from India and that he was engaged to a woman for a long time, I soon realised that I hadn’t even seen Freddie on a screen aside from the band’s music videos.
However, whilst the film does look into all aspects of Freddie’s life in some detail, much of it is toned down. Sure, something else could have been done with these more painful years in Freddie’s life, something more gritty and impacting, but this film is a biopic about the music and the band’s unforgettable performances, and that’s what you’ve got to love about it.
The only reason I wasn’t looking forward to this film was because Malek wasn’t singing as well as acting during the performances of their top hits. I always find that a film feels much more authentic when an actor performs their own musical numbers, but nobody can sing like Freddie (although Marc Martel does contribute to some of the vocal recordings) and the musical performances are still strong despite this.
The legendary frontman may be the main focus, as you would want him to be, but there’s also sufficient time spent on the other band members. There’s a great variety of scenes from seeing the band in the recording studio, at their parties, on tour, performing on stage, their relationships outside of the band, and everything in between. Fans of the band will feel a great sense of nostalgia watching the brilliant reproductions of the bands’ most famous performances, whilst others will enjoy seeing how their songs came together and to learn more about them personally. Whatever the case, you’ll definitely find yourself singing and chanting along and stamping your feet to ‘We Will Rock You’.
There is some bad editing over the montages in the middle section, which are used to speed up the timeline, but it is the performances that will stick in your head. Malek does an amazingly impressive job of transforming into Freddie and, with the help of a movement coach, he conveys all of his mannerisms perfectly. The supporting cast is just as brilliant, too, and with original members Brian May and Roger Taylor backing the project, it’s always comforting to know that those involved in the real-life story were in praise of the film.
What makes this film all the more exceptional is the climax of their triumphant reunion on the eve of Live Aid at the end of the film, with Queen’s epic performance being recreated in full and with impeccable detail. Everything builds up to this moment. This is what we have been waiting for, with the opening scene of the film building us up to Freddie entering the stage, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Forget about what the film hasn’t done and, instead, be taken in by all of the excitement that Malek, Hardy, Mazzello and Lee ooze in their performances together, let Malek make you believe that Freddie is back in action for one more night, and sing along as if you were there.
Hopefully, like the band itself, this film will earn better praise by the media through time. You won’t see a better Queen biopic than this one. Maybe, in the future, there will be a more in-depth look at Freddie’s life, but it won’t be about the music or the band, and that’s what you’ve got to love Bohemian Rhapsody for giving us.