Bohemian Rhapsody, although formulaic, is a rousing triumph of good feelings and good intentions. The film doesn’t dive deep into the life of Freddie Mercury, nor is entirely historically accurate, but it is still a good enough film to get your heart pumping and your tear ducts welling.
The biopic stars Rami Malek as the iconic Freddie Mercury and tells the story of the rise and fall of both he and Queen, within their careers and personal lives. The movie hits a lot of familiar music biopic tropes. You start off with the aspiring artist, then you see their rise to fame, but then they get involved with drugs and mental health issues. They alienate everyone around them, but ultimately learn their lesson and become the star they were always meant to be in the end. These two sentences are literally the entire plot of this movie, but given that the story is based on actual history, that is to be expected. Once you look past the paint-by-numbers plot, the movie is still pretty good.
A large part of the reason this film still works, is because of Malek’s performance. There are many times when you actually believe that he is Freddie. The way Malek transforms into Mercury by mimicking his voice, mannerisms, and movements, it’s not hard to see why some people are already calling for his Oscar. The film demands a lot from Malek, with his performance as the music legend really carrying the film. When you watch Rami Malek perform onstage, you don’t feel like you’re watching Rami Malek you feel like you’re watching Freddie Mercury and that is a huge testament to his larger than life performance.
One criticism would be that the second half of the film is significantly better than the first. The first act moves entirely too quickly. The film transitions from the band first getting together to making major hits like “Killer Queen” all in about 30 minutes or less. This is done through a lot of montages, and for a moment, it seems as if this movie was going to be just one big montage of Queen’s biggest hits. Then the film slows down when the film starts to discuss Mercury’s drug use and sexuality. That’s when the film really gets good.
The movie does not shy away from the fact that Freddie was a queer man, and that he definitely wasn’t this perfect person which legend would like you to believe. He had problems and issues which just made him even more of an appealing character and historical figure.
Another critique of the film would be that it could have delved deeper into his psyche and showed the band’s dark side more than it did. The movie is rated as PG-13 but alludes to a lot of R-rated activity going on behind the scenes which it never really shows. If tΩhe film were rated R, it could have really illustrated the life of Mercury, rather than just feeling lackluster. The film does have a squeaky clean, cookie-cutter image to it, which doesn’t fall in line with the actual history of what the band was truly like.
Overall, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was not perfect, but it was a lot of fun. The music, of course, was great and the performances were nothing short of stellar. If you’re a fan of Queen, you probably won’t learn anything new, but you will be resisting the urge to sing the entire time. So if you’re just looking for a fun time at the movies then I highly recommend seeing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in theaters now.