As a fan of Queen and also a believer that Freddie Mercury was the greatest frontman to ever grace the stage, I’ve delayed watching Bohemian Rhapsody, which may seem like an odd choice.
The truth is, I was scared it was going to be absolutely rubbish. I was scared it would sully the great man, that the control the remaining band members seem to wield about would somehow hinder the movie. Was I right?
There is no doubting that Bohemian Rhapsody is a great film, fan of Queen or not. There is no doubting that Rami Malek (“Buster’s Mal Heart“, “Mr. Robot (TV)”) is completely fabulous as Freddie, particularly in the performing stakes, there’s no doubting that Gwilym Lee (“Jamestown (TV)”, “Midsomer Murders (TV)”) is also brilliant as Brian May and there’s no doubt that director Bryan Singer (“Superman Returns”, “X-Men”) does a superb job.
Bohemian Rhapsody writers Anthony McCarten (“Darkest Hour“, “The Theory Of Everything”) and Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon”, “The Last King Of Scotland”) give us a strong story to follow, leading up to the famous Live Aid concert in 1985 when Queen stole the show.
However, we learn little about the person Freddie was before, and, despite a run-time of over two-hours, parts of the film can feel rushed; such as the first year of the band, which is completely glossed over, and the naming of the band, which just ‘happens’.
There are also some historical inaccuracies within the film, which have been well documented, as well as the contentious portrayal of Paul Prenter, Allen Leech (“Downton Abbey (TV)”, “The Imitation Game”), who is shown as a free-loader and dragging Mercury down. It’s not known if this is actually true or not, and he isn’t around to defend himself.
But, for a film like Bohemian Rhapsody, one about a man who had so much personality, who was, and still is, so well known throughout the world, it’s always going to be about the performance.
Malek replaced Sacha Baron Cohen due to ‘creative differences’ and what a replacement the producers found. Whilst it may not have the complete visual transformation of say Christian Bale in Vice, Malek nails it in mannerism and voice (and towards the end looks a lot more like Mercury).
But it’s when on stage that Malek truly channels his inner Freddie Mercury, it’s a remarkable performance from someone who apparently put in many hours studying Mercury’s performances and mannerisms. It’s chameleon like when he’s on stage.
Lee as May is also a fantastic performance, probably aided by May having been on set at times, but Lee not only looks like May, he comes across exactly as you’d imagine Brian May would, should you ever meet him.
For fans of Queen, and Freddie Mercury in particular, Bohemian Rhapsody probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know and may actually leave you questioning a lot and pointing out the flaws.
However, for the rest of us, or those who just enjoy some god damn good rock music and a great performance, Bohemian Rhapsody is exactly what you’re looking for.