Queen has one of the most recognizable sounds in not just rock music, but music period. It came as no suprirse when a biopic about the famous band was announced in 2010. Eight years later, here we are with the final result, Bohemian Rhapsody. The film has gone through a multitude of changes from conception to the big screen. Much like their music has been met with much controversy, even from the time of the film’s first trailer.
Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of Queen’s rise to fame and their lead singer, Freddie Mercury’s, behind the scenes and often controversial lifestyle. With these biopics, the hardest thing about them is often the actors who bring these legends to life. We’ve seen incredible performances in the past like Jamie Foxx into Ray Charles for Ray and Margot Robbie into Tonya Harding for I, Tonya. Then you have those that are more divise films in the genre like Maryl Streep’s The Iron Lady or Val Kilmer in The Doors. These films really rely on their lead performers.
For Rhapsody, Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury literally goes above and beyond for this role. It’s amazing to see Malek perform in this movie. Whether he’s on stage as Mercury or even alone and silent. There are moments within the film where he doesn’t utter a word and his facial expressions demonstrate fear, anxiety and uncertainty. It adds a layer of depth to not only his performance but to the way in which the film handles Mercury’s legacy. The arc of Mercury within the film is beautifully handled. From his shy and humble beginnings to larger than life superstardom; Malek masterfully meets every demand of emotion with utter perfection. Not to mention the arc with his sexual identity. It’s subtle but yet elegant.
Though Queen currently have a career that spans 58 years to date and 21 with Mercury, the film solely focuses on the first 15 years. Being bookmarked by their historical performance at 1985’s Live Aid. For the film to start here, is actually a pretty solid start overall. Bringing us back to 1970 where Mercury worked as a baggage handler at a local airport and following local band, Smile (formerly Queen, prior to Mercury joining). Taking us all the way throughout the band’s first 15 years and culminating at their Live Aid performance - which is recreated in nearly full length.
As you journey throughout the years with the band, this is where some of the weakest notes of the film are. The pacing and transitions between the years seem awkward and clumsy. They feel like their missing something to make that transition exist smoothly. As the film develops itself though, these transitional issues seem to fall at the wayside.
Overall, Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic that falls just a bit short of the legacy of its’ source material. Rami Malek leads the film with an incredible and career defying turn as the larger than life frontman, Freddie Mercury. Telling three masterfully told arcs between Queen, Freddy and his sexual identity - Rhapsody is constantly entertaining from start to finish. Though her majesty isn’t without her blemishes - the film does minorly suffer from some pacing and transitional issues. Given the scope of the story and the rest of the film, this is easy forgivable.
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