Film Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

08:25 November 05, 2018
By: Fritz Esker

Sometimes a movie can work even if the individual parts don’t all fit perfectly together. Such is the case with the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a film with plenty of entertaining scenes that don’t always smoothly connect to each other.

Rami Malek announces himself as a frontrunner for the Best Actor Oscar with his performance as Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury. Mercury was raised in London as the son of immigrants from Zanzibar. With his bandmates Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor (Gwilym Lee, Joe Mazzello, and Ben Hardy), he rises to the top of the pop charts with Queen.  

There’s a lot to unpack with the story. There’s the flamboyant Mercury’s strained relationship with his traditional parents. There’s his marriage to Mary (Lucy Boynton), his best friend whom he ultimately divorces when he comes to terms with his homosexuality. There’s also friction within the band as a manipulative manager (Allen Leech) tries to convince Mercury to go solo. And more. Like a lot of biopics, some of this feels rushed and a little underdeveloped. The film’s original director, Bryan Singer, was fired during production and replaced by Dexter Fletcher (an arbitration panel chose to give Singer credit).

However, despite the messiness alluded to above, the film still works. Malek is utterly convincing, both in performance scenes and quiet scenes. The movie also manages to make real characters out of May, Deacon, and Taylor. The later scenes between the band and between Malek and Boynton are affecting. And even though I have watched Queen’s Live Aid set on YouTube countless times (full disclosure: Queen is one of my all-time favorite bands), the movie’s re-creation of it in its final act still got my blood pumping and put a smile on my face. 

*** stars (out of four)

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