STARRING: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech, Mike Myers, Aaron McCusker, Dermot Murphy, Meneka Das and Ace Bhatti
A chronicle of the years leading up to Queen’s legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a celebration of the rock’n’roll band Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury. The film follows the rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound.
After being in development for near a decade, finally, Bohemian Rhapsody has been released in cinemas focusing on the rise of Queen, the personal life of Freddie Mercury and a look at one of the most memorable concert performances ever at Live Aid. While in may have been in development hell, the film had issues of its own during production as when the film was two-thirds of the way through its shoot, Bryan Singer was fired from the project and Dexter Fletcher was brought on board to shoot the rest.
First and foremost, it’s worth talking about just how good Rami Malek is as Freddie Mercury here. Malek completely embodies the confidence and mannerisms of Freddie when it comes to the stage performances, then feels sincere, vulnerable whenever he shares the screen with Lucy Boynton’s Mary Austin. Boynton’s performance is good here as Mary and the rest of the Queen members, portrayed by Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello, doing a fine job here (especially Lee I had to do a double take on as he looks and sounds pretty much like Brian May to me). There’s one quiet moment between Malek and Boynton, with ‘Love Of My Life’ playing in the background, when Freddie’s sexuality is discussed and it feels genuinely heartfelt as you can see that the two genuinely care for each other. It’s the quiet moments such as this that you wish the film kind of had more of. The creative team went with the choice of using the actual music of the band/Freddie’s voice for the concert performances and recordings and for the most part, the lip syncing is solid enough. Admittedly the films climax, the Live Aid performance, is well staged and edited, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face when watching it.
With the lengthy development of the film finally coming to fruition about one of the most influential bands of all time, there was a few issues that were going to come up. One of those was how the film was going to handle Freddie Mercury’s sexuality and personal life and the film doesn’t necessarily shy away from Freddie being gay or his party exploits but it handles it with kid gloves as it were, insinuating rather than portraying. May disappointment however came in how superficial and by the numbers the Queen biopic actually is. The film at one point had Sacha Baron Cohen set to play Freddie and once he left and it became clear from the script he had that Freddie dies halfway through but the band goes on, there was uproar over that and the studio/writers definitely listened to that feedback as the film is mostly told in the Freddie Mercury feat. Queen vein. The making of the bands most iconic songs start to become repetitive after a while as you hear the rhythm/beat, the recording process and then quick jump to stage performance of said song. This happens at least three times in the film and while it is effective at first, I can understand why for some that will be tiresome come the third time.
Bohemian Rhapsody works well as a celebration of Queen, but if you’re coming in for a biopic that tells it all in detail, warts and all, then your expectations will not be matched by what appears on screen. Rami Malek embodies Freddie Mercury when he’s sharing the screen with Lucy Boynton’s Mary and especially when he’s on stage. Sure it may be a by the numbers biopic, but if that’s what you came here for, along with the music of Queen, then you’ll thoroughly have a good time especially with the recreation of the Live Aid performance at Wembley. 6/10