Bohemian Rhapsody, for the uninitiated, is directed by Bryan Singer and stars Rami Malek. It follows the story of the Queen and it’s enigmatic front man Freddie Mercury from their humble Brighton beginnings to the dizzying heights of their iconic Live Aid performance at Wembley in 1985. Along the way, the film details the band’s battle with producers, managers and Freddie’s own struggles with his sexuality.
The circus that preceded this film was quite a public one. Bryan Singer would reportedly not show up on set, had a fractious relationship with the film’s lead star Rami Malek and would eventually be sanctimoniously replaced by Dexter Fletcher, who’s got his own Elton John biopic in the works for next year.
And rightly so, the film suffers the consequences of the behind-the-scenes incidents. But a triumphant second half miraculously salvages this film and somehow makes for a lovely viewing at the cinema.
The first thirty to forty minutes of this movie feel like another director putting together the sum of the original director’s parts . We’re hastily taken through Freddie’s Indian routes, with a hilariously over the top performance from his mother. (“Thank you beta!” ,she gushes cringely, much to the sheer disgust of every brown kid in the audience). A lot of this film plays out like a beat-by-beat, on-the-nose retelling of the band’s greatest hits and it most certainly bogs down major parts of the film.
However, Rami Malek towers over the movie’s discrepancies and just about makes sure you hold on till the film takes a turn for the better. Malek is electrifying as Freddie, surely a career defining performance from the actor. He effortlessly channels Mercury’s magnanimity and helps paper over the film’s rather problematic cracks. His relationship with Lucy Boynton’s Mary Austin is one of Bohemian Rhapsody’s highlights, as the two play off each other wonderfully. However, the homosexual side of his life is heavily watered down in an effort to find a more widespread audience for the film. Freddie was wild, his parties over the top, much like his public persona. The choices the film makes is slightly disappointing keeping in mind the current dialogue being exchanged about the subject across the world.
For all its shortcomings, Bohemian Rhapsody is still a beautiful ride. Boasting some lovely performances, a terrific soundtrack and some brilliantly executed set pieces, it’s sure to keep you singing and dancing in your seats till the lights come on. Go watch it on the biggest, loudest screen you can find and give yourself into it’s grandeur. I promise you’ll have such a good time, you’ll have a ball.