If you aren’t already familiar with Rami Malek, get ready to see him headlining many more films. His performance as the iconic Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) is outstanding. There is a passion in his eyes that Bryan Singer’s film captures visually which emanates so much about the character. While other critics are saying Malek’s performance is the only highlight of the story, I found that I had a great experience and appreciated what this movie was trying – and succeeded – to do.
Bohemian Rhapsody rocked!
The film starts at its end, which is a modern trend that I usually find unnecessary. However, it works very well in this movie. The camera follows Freddie onto the stage just before Live Aid, and without clearly seeing his face, you can see that Malek’s body language embodies Mercury. Of course, it jumps back in time to see young Freddie going out to a concert to hang with “friends”. It becomes clear he doesn’t really have any, but he is a fan of the college band Smile. Freddie introduces himself to Brian May and Roger Taylor, and quickly earns his place in the band.
It’s no secret that Queen made great music that has lasted the test of time. Fortunately for this movie, that music takes center stage as the story really focuses on the band more so than just Freddie. There are some amazing scenes in this film that use their iconic songs varying from performance pieces, recording sessions, and just soundtrack elements. No matter which format the songs are used, they add to the overall enjoyment of each scene. There are visuals that remind of music videos embedded in performance pieces that establish the passage of time that could otherwise be bland if not for the music.
There are some tonal issues from scene to scene, and in some ways, the film feels episodic if not for the throughline of Freddie Mercury. Nonetheless, the scenes that have an air of comedy to them are quite enjoyable and memorable. There is a moment when Queen is fighting their label about Bohemian Rhapsody and their desire to have it as their radio single. The humor in the sequence is there anyway, but if you’re a devout movie watcher you may catch a few inside jokes as well. There are some visual jokes that worked well – one specifically being a match cut of a Rooster that made me laugh out loud.
Ultimately, I feel that Bohemian Rhapsody works really well. It doesn’t set out to be the tell-all story of Freddie Mercury, but rather to establish Queen as a mythological powerhouse of music led by one of the most eccentric and talented frontmen of all time. To me, that story was what I needed, as it acknowledges the flaws of Freddie without dwelling on them and instead allows us to appreciate the value of friendship and great music. Bohemian Rhapsody earns the Must See rating.