‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ review: An entertaining yet narcissistic story about one of music’s most beloved rock stars
The Rami Malek starrer Freddie Mercury biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ will certainly get your attention, but it lacks the heart that it needs to be great.
The much anticipated Freddie Mercury biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is close to being terrific, but it slightly misses the mark. Freddie Mercury was and still is a music legend and was one of the most unique artists to ever exist in both his music and the way he led his life. That said, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ seemed like a far too formulaic take on one of the least formulaic people of all time.
Starring Rami Malek, the film starts off strong and jumps right into the story of how QUEEN came to be. There was no unnecessary lead up to the big moment the band members met, which was a smart choice by director Dexter Fletcher and writer Anthony McCarten who take us on this journey through Mercury’s eyes. However, as the film progresses, Mercury becomes more and more unlikeable, making it somewhat difficult to root for this talented yet tortured protagonist. Because of this, it felt as though the film needed to delve deeper into the band members' lives as it honestly got exhausting rooting for someone who had such a disregard for other people.
Obviously, this is a film about Mercury and not about the band QUEEN itself, but it was difficult to connect with such a polarizing character. That said, Malek was great in the role really taking on the bizarre essence of Mercury and his unique artistry. While some may think that Malek’s acting was odd and over the top, that just means he was doing his job right because Mercury was an odd and over the top person. It was said several times throughout the film that Mercury was happiest while performing on stage, and consequently, those moments are the most enjoyable of the film.
Although in terms of the storytelling, it was simply too black and white. The band gets together, they find great success, they fight, they break up and they get back together. While all of this was likely the way things happened, the filmmaking was too linear, not diving into the complexities of the story and the other characters. Even though most know how this story ends, there still should have been parts that shocked the audience giving them new information that they didn’t have before. It was more or less textbook moviemaking, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it wasn’t the standout film of the year that people were expecting.
The upside is that 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is wildly entertaining, keeping the audience’s attention throughout the entirety of the 135-minute film. A good chunk of the film feels like a music video or a concert, engaging the audience through music and not necessarily through the story itself. While it was certainly enjoyable, it wasn't the masterpiece many hoped it would be.
As stated before, the other characters deserved not just more screen time, but more character development. It’s a shame the filmmakers didn’t take advantage of the talent they had because the other actors in the film were wonderful, and quite frankly far more likable than Mercury himself. Besides Mercury, there were obviously three other members of QUEEN, John Deacon (played by Joseph Mazzello) Roger Taylor (played by Ben Hardy) and Brian May (played by Gwilym Lee) and they were each brilliant.
The other standout performance of the film was that of Lucy Boynton who played “the love of Mercury’s life”, Mary Austin. Her story and her strength were heartbreaking and there was not one moment in the film where Boynton seemed as though she was acting and not truly invested in her character.
Considering ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ took years to make, having to recast Sacha Baron Cohen replacing him with Malek as well as replacing director Bryan singer with Dexter Fletcher, it was an overall good and entertaining film. Should it be nominated for Academy Awards? With the exception of Malek for best actor, likely not. That said, is it a film you should go see in theaters? Absolutely.
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ will be released nationwide on November 2.