If you ever doubted Rami Malek as an actor, prepare to be in awe at one of the greatest performances of the year.
Starring Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Lucy Boynton, Tom Hollander, Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech and Mike Myers, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the highly anticipated biopic directed by Bryan Singer (and Dexter Fletcher who replaced him after some on-set drama).
Spanning a period of 15 years, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ chronicles the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and the band’s rise to fame, up to their legendary performance at Live Aid in 1985.
Before I start, I have to say how lucky we are to actually get this movie. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has undergone a lot of behind the scenes drama over the past several years. From Sacha Baron Cohen originally meant to play Freddie Mercury back in 2010, but leaving after a dispute, to the termination of director Bryan Singer after alleged violent allocations with Malek. So, the fact we actually got this Queen biopic is a miracle. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
Firstly, I need to talk about Rami Malek, who is phenomenal as Freddie Mercury! I’ve always been a fan of Rami Malek ever since I saw him in his disturbing role in the WWII miniseries ‘The Pacific’ and my love for him got even bigger after watching him in ‘Mr. Robot’. As I was watching ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, I didn’t see Rami Malek. I saw Freddie Mercury and oh my was he entertaining to watch. Malek’s performance as one of the greatest frontmen of all time was electrifyingly good and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got an award nomination. Seriously, Rami Malek is amazing and I would pay the admission price just to experience his performance again. He transformed into Freddie Mercury as he moved like him, talked like him (he even had the exact same mannerisms as Freddie) and it blew my mind.
Speaking of Freddie Mercury, the performances from the rest of the band were also pretty good. Gwilym Lee, who played Brian May, was great. It’s crazy how much he looked like him, but it may have also just been the hair. Ben Hardy was also great as Roger Taylor. He pretty much had the biggest role out of the band other than Malek and he did a solid job. Joseph Mazzello also did a solid job at playing John Deacon and was always enjoyable to watch. It was great to see Mazzello and Malek onscreen together again as they were both fantastic as a pair of “friends” in ‘The Pacific’.
Lucy Boynton was fantastic as Freddie Mercury’s first love, Mary Austin. It was interesting that the movie focused a lot on their relationship, rather than focusing more on Freddie’s sexuality. I did like that it resulted in more screen time with Malek and Boynton together as they do have a lot of great chemistry. Overall she was a great addition to the movie.
Allen Leech did a solid job as Paul Prenter, Freddie’s controlling partner. He was great at playing the controlling figure in Freddie’s life and it led to some of the more dramatic parts of the movie. Aidan Gillen and Tom Hollander were also great as the managers of Queen. There is also a fun cameo (well maybe more than a cameo) from Mike Myers who I didn’t recognise for a decent chunk of the movie.
Now, considering this is a biopic about Queen, there is a lot of music in this movie. I feel like at least 40% of the movie is just Queen performing, but it’s entertaining to watch. If you want a biopic with more substance (something I am about to talk about) then this might not be for you. If you do love the music (and I will admit, every time Queen performs it’s wonderful), then you’ll love this!
The writing is a bit of a mixed bag. On one side, the dialogue is pretty solid and the structure is really good. It moves at a fast pace that keeps you entertained throughout it’s more than two-hour runtime. It also manages to do a solid job at telling the story of Queen and Freddie Mercury. However, on the other side, it doesn’t dive deep into the majority of the stuff Freddie and the band was known for. For example, the movie does show some of Freddie’s sexuality and a little bit of his drug use, but not as much as one would like to see. Although it is shown, the movie could have been better if it went darker and showed more of the impact Freddie’s lifestyle had on him, it would have made for a much more compelling biopic.
Yes, the movie does show Freddie’s sexuality and drug use, but not enough to really impact the audience. If the movie had a higher rating (MA instead of M), it may have resulted in one of the best biopics of the 21st century. Instead, it decides to go on a safer route and only shows us this sugar-coated side of Queen and Freddie Mercury which could have been so much more. It did disappoint me a bit as I was hoping for just a bit more substance.
Before I summarise I must also say that the directing was hit and miss at times. This goes hand in hand with what I was saying before about the sugar-coated story, as it could have been so much more (this is also due to Bryan Singer being fired and replaced after filming 85% of the movie). But for a fair bit of the movie, the directing is pretty solid. The Live Aid performance itself is one of the most exciting pieces of filmmaking I’ve seen all year!
Overall, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ may not be the dark and gritty biopic that delves into Freddie Mercury’s personal life many were hoping for, but it still manages to be one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Anchored by an incredible performance from Rami Malek, an interesting true story and solid musical direction, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ will rock you out of your seat and leave you wanting to listen to Queen for the next few weeks.