With complicated history that already surrounds this film it’s hard not to look at it with microscope and see where all the imperfections lie; I went into this film inherently aiming not to look for these mistakes, but instead, they found me. In this biographical film by director Bryan Singer we follow the history of the band Queen and their rise to fame.
Bohemian Rhapsody does some things right and some wrong, it has its ups and downs, its hits and flops, much like band. Whether you’re a hardcore Queen fan looking to see them get the spotlight they deserve, a cinephile looking for deep storytelling, or the general movie-goer simply wanting a decent story and to hear the songs recreated; there’s a the very least a little bit for everyone here, but at the same time not enough to make any of it substantially satisfying. This is a film that has difficulty finding which audience it wants please and in doing so misses mark in satisfying any single group.
Audiences are provided here with a fairly linear and decently entertaining biographical film – the characters offer a good sense of likability and the story keeps you invested to an extent. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit this film loses a significant degree interest as it goes along, primarily in the third act, as it rushes toward the conclusion we’re thrown into a drawn out sequence of Queen on-stage that simply felt like it wouldn’t end. This films massively long final concert scene was ultimately ineffective as it carried no weight or impact upon delivery, unlike Whiplash (2014) which carries huge amounts of momentum that delivered an impactful climax. The sheer amount of Queen songs played throughout the course of the film quickly becomes overwhelming and eventually irritating, as it feels like they’re planted at every available moment of silence. This film almost made me dislike their music.
This film however offers a great range of performances in almost every area. Rami Malek’s role as Freddie Mercury is certainly the film’s strongest attribute, his quirky and diva-like attitude brings the character to life. Rami commands control of so many mannerisms that you begin to forget that it is Rami and not Freddie. The supporting cast were fantastic, but sadly play a smaller role overall than I would have liked. Ben Hardy, Joseph Marcello, and Gwilym Lee all embody the band members of Queen, this was an outstanding example of casting and execution. The entire band felt alive, with hearty camaraderie and a unity, I felt like the whole band understood their single vision. I really wanted to see more of the band as a whole, but the film decides to shift its gaze toward Freddie as its centerpiece, leaving one with a thirst for Queen, what they are, what they represent; that is what interested me.
The technical features offer a strong foundation to what made this film feel as alive as it did. While there’s little impressive cinematography to hound about, the set design goes above and beyond in its intricacy. From massive stages and stadiums to secluded studios and trashed mansions – I never felt like I was hovering around the same sets throughout the film. While the music is repetitive and overused, the sound editing and layering of the original songs over Rami’s mouth looked almost flawless, allowing for further immersion.
Bohemian Rhapsody is by no means bad, but it does have its problems, I don’t have issues with its accuracy (as the band members acted as executive producers), but I did with the narrative focus it decided to take. I wanted to know what made this band special, but more importantly, why it did, we simply weren’t given that answer. While Bohemian Rhapsody boasts a fantastic performance from Rami Malek, it exists more as a dedicated biopic for Freddie than a tribute to Queen as a whole.