Despite never being the biggest Queen fan around, I have grown up around their music, as my mother is a huge admirer of Freddie Mercury and the many timeless tunes he and his band graciously gifted the human race and I was truly excited before stepping into the theatre.
Bohemian Rhapsody is directed by Brian Singer and stars Rami Malek (Mr Robot, Night at the Museum) as Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant frontman of legendary rock group Queen. The films beginnings show us how the band came to be, and instantly showcases Freddie’s personality and talents and we instantly recognise him as a man with tremendous aspirations in his life, despite the dismay of his family, chiefly his father.
The film makes a very good point to show that, as genius a musician Freddie was, it was equally as much due to the talents of the rest of the band, namely Brian May (Gwilym Lee) Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) that helped make many of the bands iconic hits such as Another One Bites the Dust and We Will Rock You. Despite this seeming like a small detail, it helps hit home the fact that the band was not a failure without Freddie and likewise Freddie was never going to be a failure without Queen.
The film also delves deep into Freddie’s much documented sexuality and makes the film very poignant towards its latter stages when you know how his story ends. Particular credit goes to Lucy Boynton’s portrayal of Mary Austin, nailing each scene and creating realistic chemistry alongside Malek to really give their relationship some depth and history. The body of these two characters interactions occur within the first third of the film but never feel like too much too soon.
The stories conflict lies within Allen Leech’s role as Paul Prenter and his ever-growing influence over Freddie. The bands clashes with Prenter over how much access they can get to Freddie and his notable downward spiral into one night stands and alcohol and substance abuse are where the story is at its thickest. Malek makes us care, yet also resent Freddie and his attitude towards those who only want the best for him at many points during the film, something which a less courageous filmmaker may have left out in fear of his work being labelled as a hatchet job.
The films climax involves their epic set at Live Aid and trust me when I say, you will get goosebumps, whether you’re completely new to Queen or a seasoned veteran. A full Wembley stadium is truly a sight to behold. With what felt like a 30 minute set of Queen classics, the sensation is comparable to a high speed roller coaster, each song evokes a higher level of enjoyment before crescendoing with We are the Champions to play us out.
Previous to this, the films latter stages also show us the moment when Mercury gets his diagnosis with AIDS. Something which is lingered on for a very short space of time before the finale but is expertly handled and adds a sombre tone to the end sequence that left many in my theatre teary-eyed on their way out.
I sat through the credits trying to catch my breath from a finale that was kept from us for too long, often wondering when and if we would get a lengthy performance segment if at all. This is where my biggest concerns lie. Queen, a band known for hit after hit of catchy, memorable songs, many of which were left to the very end of the film to be performed in its entirety, others were only played for a matter of seconds at a time and others not at all. A film which I thought handled the showcasing of songs better was Jersey Boys (2014) which delves deeper into the origins of its contents in a more accessible and friendlier way, whereas I felt in Bohemian Rhapsody, we were only offered a look inside from the window rather than invited in through the door. To simplify, the film likes to show off the fact they have the songs, rather than show us the songs themselves. This leaves us feeling like a cinematic moment(s) was lost in some respect. Rami Malek, for as well as he played the role, sometimes comes across as overly exaggerating in his mannerisms and I am sure Freddie’s teeth couldn’t have been THAT big in real life. Right?, Right?!
Overall, I enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody as a fun,fast paced drama, with plenty of moments for you to tap your foot to.You May also have to reach for the tissues as those final scenes are simply extraordinary. We get a truly poignant glimpse into the larger than life legend of Freddie Mercury and the band that helped cement him as one of (if not) the best frontman to ever step on the stage.
Overall rating: 7.9