‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ review: An easy come, easy go biopic

Bohemian Rhapsody rocks well as a safe and mildly scandalous musical biopic.

Bohemian Rhapsody treats the life of Freddie Mercury with a cautious affection. The film starts in London 1970, when Freddie (Rami Malek), still known in his birth name Farrokh Bulsara, is a young man who works as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport, but he intends to make his name as a musician. One night, after watching the local band “Smile” perform, Freddie convinces their guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) to make him their new lead singer, after giving them a taste of his incredible vocal range. The trio later add bass guitarist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) to their ranks and dub their new band as Queen, a name picked out by Freddie himself. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound. As they reach unparalleled success, lead singer Freddie has to traverse his career and personal life surrounded by darker influences along with the possibility of pursuing a solo career.

With a run time of over two hours, Bohemian Rhapsody supplies as a reminder that the band will forever come down as a legend. As a biopic, this film tips more favor on fleshing out the lead singer’s life than the band Queen itself. The film puts much drama in the band’s rise – the struggles and its cheerful trip through the hits. While on Freddie’s life it struggles to find focus, the film does not go for a more liberal approach other than what might have been a public knowledge already. It revolves much time to his relationship with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and to his solitary to gay relationships. The film doesn’t seem to know what to do with his homosexual desire. His love affair with Paul Prenter (Allen Leech) only played a nightmare of scandal, addiction and exploitation with him being innocent. It only views Paul as a villain and AIDS as a punishment. In attempt to stay polite, the film gives an untarnished image to the surviving members of Queen.

Rami Malek, on the other hand, brings an extraordinary performance that deserves all the cheers it gets. No wonder why the film makes much better viewing because he almost gets the good lines and he offers something more beyond the material. Malek outshines all the other cast members, especially in the recreation of Live Aid in which he gives everything he has by performing it like it might be Freddie’s last time. It’s one of the most truly affecting scenes to the viewers.

Where the film feels lacking and flawed, the music compensates much for it. Bohemian Rhapsody would make you feel that something essential is missing but the band’s performance will make you appreciate the film more. Many of the major Queen hits are heard in the film and these will let you get into the film’s groove. The excitement along with the audience participation is what the film does best with. “Bohemian Rhapsody” “We Are the Champions”, “We Will Rock You”, and “Radio Ga Ga” are all great hits to sing along worthy ofb an IMAX viewing.

4 out of 5 stars

Directed by Bryan Singer. Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Allen Leech, Aiden Gillen, Tom Hollander, and Mike Myers. Produced by 20th Century Fox, Initial Entertainment Group, and Regency Enterprises. Run time: 135 minutes.

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