Despite the overall quality, let's still give it up for Remi Malek.
Few musicians in the world have as interesting of a life-story as Freddie Mercury does.
Born in Zanzibar during the 1940s, Mercury eventually made his way to London with his wife, Mary Austin. That’s when he met Brian May and Roger Taylor for the first time.
He stumbled upon the two of them when they were performing in a bar in 1970, at that time going by the band name ‘Smile.’
Mercury approached them after the show and is quickly brought on board once May and Taylor hear his vocal range. John Deacon was then hired as the band’s bassist a year later and, just like that, Queen had been born.
That all happens within the first 15-minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody — a new biopic telling of all the highs and lows Mercury experienced in his life before dying of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 45.
It’s a story that should be told, re-told and then told again, without a doubt, as there’s a lot we can learn from Freddie Mercury. I’m just not totally convinced Bohemian Rhapsody was the best way to go about it.
There was trouble on the set of Bohemian Rhapsody from day one. Sacha Baron Cohen was initially tapped to portray Mercury but later backed out because he wasn’t pleased how the character was written. According to Cohen, the movie was largely overlooking Mercury’s homosexuality and other controversial issues, which is something he wanted no part of.
Rami Malek later came on to replace Cohen and the movie was handed over to Bryan Singer.
Bohemian Rhapsody’s problems didn’t end there, though. Right when they had almost finished filming the movie, Singer was fired by 20th Century Fox from the project. Rumors have been floating around as to why Singer was fired ever since — some say it was because he was nearly impossible to work with and didn’t show up to set, others say it had something to do with him being on the wrong end of the #MeToo movement.
Whatever the case may be, Singer got the boot and Dexter Fletcher — who’s also directing the upcoming Elton John biopic, Rocketman — came in to finish the film.
That behind-the-scenes drama definitely has an overall effect on Bohemian Rhapsody, but before we get to all of that, I went to spend some time highlighting some of the things that I really liked in this movie.
There’s a lot of them, too. Bohemian Rhapsody may be a mixed bag, but it’s a mixed bag full of extremes — meaning there are moments that are extremely awesome others that are extremely disappointing.
It goes without saying that Rami Malek is giving the performance of a lifetime in Bohemian Rhapsody. He’s got the look down, of course, but he pays so close attention to the other details as well — his voice, his mannerisms and his quirks — that, at some level, it doesn’t feel like we’re watching a portrayal of Freddie Mercury. Malek’s recreation of the iconic character feels like we’re seeing him in real life all over again, launching him forward as the new front-runner at the Oscars this year.
The rest of the supporting cast does quite well in Bohemian Rhapsody, too. Granted, they're no Malek, but his performance is unparalleled to anyone, so we can’t expect them to be.
Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazello are all brilliant as the other, maybe less talked about members of Queen. Each of them breathes life into the person they’re playing, giving them a story and emotional angle that most other movies wouldn’t have thought to include.
I also want to give a special shout-out to Lucy Boynton, who plays Mercury’s friend Mary Austin. I’ve been high on Boynton ever since Sing Street (which is still, quite literally, one of the greatest movies ever made and I don’t care what none of y’all have to say about it) and she, once again, does great work in Bohemian Rhapsody. Now that she’s finally becoming a bigger thing in Hollywood, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing her everywhere.
That, unfortunately, leads up to some of the pitfalls in Bohemian Rhapsody.
This script, plain and simple, isn’t good. Freddie Mercury had such an interesting and complicated life, and yet Bohemian Rhapsody finds a way to make it all feel so dull.
Not dull in the sense that I was bored during the movie, because that’s not true. Malek is so good that he’s able to sell the bland dialogue he’s given and make this movie more watchable than it would have been with any other actor.
The point remains, though, that they take Mercury’s story and turn parts of it into a made for TV movie.
They might address Freddie’s personal life and inner-demons in Bohemian Rhapsody, sure. They don’t try to shy away from the fact that he was homosexual or that he died from AIDS. The way it’s all portrayed, though, just feels so disingenuous and showy — like the filmmakers had Oscars on their mind so much that they forgot to make a believable, cohesive movie.
I don’t know how much of that is because of the director drama and whatnot, but I will say this: all those problems go completely out the window during the last fifteen minutes of this movie. Bohemian Rhapsody’s climax — which is when the band sings at the Live Aid concert in 1985 — is near-perfect.
It’s great that the movie can nail those moments and pay tribute to who is, in my opinion, one of the best lead singers of all time. It’s also great that Bohemian Rhapsody and Rami Malek can usher in a new generation of Queen fans, making Mercury’s legacy last on and on. What’s not great is the backbones that this movie tries to rest on. Bohemian Rhapsody might be showy, energetic and even fun at times, but there’s a whole lot of structural problems underneath all of that which prevents this from becoming the gem we had hoped it would be.
Watch the trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie!
'Bohemian Rhapsody' - A lot of good and a lot of bad [REVIEW]6