Bohemian Rhapsody: Our Critic Casts a Skeptical Eye

Ms. Elena Crites

Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie titled after the iconic rock ballad/opera/hard rock anthem and directed by Bryan Singer, was released on November 2, 2018. The film follows the story of the spectacular Freddie Mercury, played by Rami Malek, and his band, Queen. The film is essentially just a pretty safe biopic – save for Malek’s extraordinary performance and the thrilling soundtrack you’d expect from a movie about Queen.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie titled after the iconic rock ballad/opera/hard rock anthem and directed by Bryan Singer, was released on November 2, 2018. The film follows the story of the spectacular Freddie Mercury, played by Rami Malek, and his band, Queen. The film is essentially just a pretty safe biopic – save for Malek’s extraordinary performance and the thrilling soundtrack you’d expect from a movie about Queen.

 In the film, the story is presented that Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), born Farrokh Bulsara, an immigrant from Tanzania, met a group of band members while they were performing as a band called Smile. After they lost their lead singer, the ambitious Freddie joined the band and they began to produce new music as Queen. The film follows Freddie’s life and various romantic relationships, as well as the changing dynamics within the band.

It’s important to note that this film was not made easily. In fact, director Bryan Singer left the project a couple weeks before they finished filming and the film was completed by the uncredited Dexter Fletcher. For a while, it was unclear if Singer would even be credited in the final cut (he was).

The film was messy and a bit boring at times, but that’s not to say that Bohemian Rhapsody wasn’t extraordinarily enjoyable. It was chock-full of nostalgic moments and each time the band played a classic tune, it felt like the viewer almost had to stand up and sing along. The entire end of the film, which focuses on the band during their iconic performance at the Live Aid concert in 1985, was exhilarating. Everything enjoyable about the film is just magnified by Malek’s incredible performance, though it’s unfortunately not helped by his distracting set of fake teeth, an attempt to recreate Freddie’s signature overbite.

Malek worked with a movement coach to perfectly embody Freddie, as well as a dialect coach to master the accent. These pieces added greatly to his overall portrayal of Mercury, with his signature dazzling style captured remarkably.

The biggest disappointment of Bohemian Rhapsody is just that it’s not the film it could’ve been. With so much great material to work with, it seems that they could’ve turned out a plotline with significantly fewer lulls. For example, the band’s college plans were quite unusual for successful rock stars, a fact that is barely mentioned in the film. Guitarist Brian May was studying to become an astrophysicist, bassist John Deacon was studying to be an electrical engineer and drummer Roger Taylor studied to become a dentist. Not to mention that Freddie’s own story is quite interesting on its own, though it’s barely glossed over in the film. From his experiences as an immigrant in Britain, to his sexual escapades, to his fight with AIDS, Freddie Mercury’s story is not without intriguing plot points. The film seemed to skip over most of Mercury’s story, rather than grapple with its difficult nature.

It’s put together in the most basic style of biopics, with montages skipping over significant portions of the band’s story, often accompanied by the cheesiest of graphics. Stylistically, it isn’t interesting in the slightest.

It’s mind-boggling that the film has snagged a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture – Drama when it was up against critically acclaimed films such as Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, Damien Chazelle’s First Man, or the mesmerizing First Reformed.

However, the film was in no way a waste of time, mainly due to its powerful musical drive. It is bland at points and rarely original, but the incredible music acts as a strong driving force and is really the only reason to watch it at all.

 

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