Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) is currently in cinemas. The film – directed by Bryan Singer, but completed by Dexter Fletcher – stars Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello.
Yes, but it is flawed.
Bohemian Rhapsody charts the origin and success of Queen, from half-formed student band to global sensation. The movie ticks off most of Queen’s greatest hits and delves into the life of lead singer, Freddie Mercury, as played by Raimi Malek.
Is Malek good, you ask?
Oh boy, is he good!
Malek is brilliant – simply brilliant. From the moment he first appears on screen, to his epic scenes at Live Aid, he is a gift. I can’t imagine anyone else in this role and he nails the part perfectly.
Raimi is so good in fact, that this is his movie. Sure, there are plenty of great actors in this film – including a brilliant turn by Gwilym Lee as Brian May – but this is Raimi’s piece without a doubt.
Good right? Yes, but Raimi is so good that he shows up the flaws in the film – namely, the pretty sub par direction. The film doesn’t reach the heights that Raimi does and it become all too evident all too quickly.
It’s been fairly well documented that Bohemian Rhapsody suffered from some backstage issues during production – i.e. the firing of director Bryan Singer mid-shoot and the hiring of Dexter Fletcher to complete the movie. I believe these issues show up in the finished film.
The picture feels like it was completed in a bit of a rush so that a product could be handed over even if it wasn’t quite ready. The beginning feels jumpy, the ending feels abrupt and the midsection flounders a little too much.
What should have been a fully formed piece comes across as a glossy snapshot rather than an in depth feature. It is a film that is too long and yet, bizarrely too short.
By the end of the film I felt like I got to see an insight into the Queen/Freddie Mercury story, but I didn’t really learning anything new. I also felt like the ending lacked any real impact.
Anyone making a movie about Queen has to focus on Freddie and this means taking his story up to the definitive end. Freddie’s passing is sad, but it is something that the film needs to include.
Bohemian Rhapsody opts not to show Freddie’s death and instead resorts to onscreen text to detail what happens. By going down this route, the story misses its emotional finale and the picture just seems to end.
It’s a shame. A real shame, because the twenty minutes that proceed this are fantastic.
The Live Aid scenes? Brilliant!
It sounds like I didn’t like this movie, but I did. I just feel that it should have been better. It deserves to have been better.
All in all, Bohemian Rhapsody is a perfectly serviceable movie that I did enjoy, it just fails to break any new ground, which is ironic when the film goes to great lengths to explain how experimental the band was. If only the film had been as experimental itself.
Go and watch Bohemian Rhapsody for Malek’s performance, which is INCREDIBLE, or because you like Queen, just don’t expect to come away feeling completely satisfied. The film is good, it’s just not quite killer Queen.
Bohemian Rhapsody is currently on general release.