After watching “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I kept wanting to research more about Queen and their music and while I’ve been a fan of their hits since I was a kid, I felt that I owed it to this legendary music icons to understand them better. I guess that it is truly a mark of a great biopic to engage the audience enough to leave them wanting more long after the movie is over and this was what “Bohemian Rhapsody” succeeded in doing — reintroducing a love for Queen’s music to a new generation but also a respect for what the members have contributed to music history.
Synopsis: Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of rock icons Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), Bryan May (Gwylim Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and John Deacon (Joe Mazello) as they make their mark in music history as the band Queen. It is a look behind the scenes of their journey to success, failure, and weaving through the circus that was the rock and roll scene in the 70s.
Bohemian Rhapsody was marketed as a biopic of Queen’s talented, flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury, who was born as Farrokh Bulsara and grew up in India to traditional Parsi parents before reinventing himself in London and taking over the global music scene along with bandmates Bryan, Roger and Deaki as the incomporabale rock band Queen.
Director Bryan Singer did deliver on this promise to tell Freddie’s story but while some filmmakers would focus on the controversial aspects of Freddie’s career before the band’s epic LiveAID performance in Wembley Arena, I appreciated the fact that the film tastefully touched on the subject, only as part of Freddie’s story, not as the summation of his character.
I loved that the film, while touching on Freddie’s sexuality, which was a major issue in the 70s at the height of their popularity, made it about the journey of Freddie’s journey with Queen. It told the story on how Freddie, Bryan and Roger started the band, and how, with the addition of Deaki, they became a family. I think the film also succeeded in casting the perfect actors to play the parts. They were simply amazing.
While Freddie was Queen’s figurehead, I loved how solid they were in making creative decisions, like how they put their foot down in making the six-minute long masterpiece Bohemian Rhapsody the carrier single of their album “A Night at the Opera.” Sure, they fought (a lot) especially when they were becoming famous and Freddie was having a crisis with the loss of Mary Austin, the love of his life while he was being manipulated by his manager Paul Leech, but I loved how, even though his life was cut short because of AIDS, he lived a full life and reached every goal he set out to do.
It was really fun to see how they bickered like idiots over whose song was better and how they even threw a rock at EMI exec Ray Foster’s (Mike Myers) window when he dismissed their song as nonsense. I liked how they also used Queen’s hit songs to highlight specific parts of their career. I particularly loved the story on how “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We will rock you” were created. It just shows how much the band were thinking of their fans when they wrote their songs.
The film also made sure to inject quiet moments of thought and reflection in between the touring and the loud music in order to establish Freddie’s inner turmoil, his personal conflicts and the sense of being cornered, to just give the audience insight into the type of person he truly was.
Rami Malek more than deserved to pick up the Oscar for his performance as Freddie Mercury. It takes a lot to step into the shoes of a larger than life character such as Mercury but Rami did so with a commitment and flair that even the real life members of Queen felt, embodied the character. Rami’s respect for Mercury was such that he studied even his slightest nuances, coming off with an almost perfect replica of the band’s epic LiveAID performance.
Rami’s commitment to the role brought viewers to that milestone event in 1985 where, battling the effects of AIDS, he gave the best show for millions of fans at the arena and at home. It was an epic moment in time when Mercury reunited with his family and his truest friends to share the stage and make history. It was very clear that Miami (Jim) Beach’s (Tom Hollander) intent for getting Queen the gig was not intended to jumpstart Queen’s career as as 30 something rockers. They were there to cement their place in the annals of rock history as the legends that they were. And the film’s epic closing scene made sure to deliver the same feeling as Queen’s performance in Wembley inspired over 30 years ago. It was pure magic.
All in all, Bohemian Rhapsody did not employ any unique style to tell the story of Queen but rather left the story of these rock legends amaze the audience with their musical genius. They were non conformists who were truly passionate about their craft. They shattered convention and were unafraid of failure. After watching their story, it was understandable that they won no Grammys despite all their record success. They were ahead of their time, and for that one final performance, for that one magnificent moment, they took the stage, and in Freddie Mercury’s words, they were able to have a touch of heaven.
PS. This was one of the most difficult reviews I have had to do so far because I was just so impressed that I had to hold back from using too much superlatives.