If you are a fan of Queen and want to know about their story then you will probably like this….
- Screenplay by Anthony McCarten (The Darkest Hour, The Theory of Everything)
- Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men Franchise)
- Starring Rami Malek (Need for Speed, Papillion), Lucy Boynton (Apostle), Gwilym Lee (The Tourist), Ben Hardy (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Joseph Mazzello (The Social Network)
- Budget of $52m
Initial Thoughts 💭
If you want a very high level summary of how Queen initially assembled, how certain songs came to be, a high speed highlight reel of a few of their tours , when they broke up and the problems Freddie Mercury faced then you will leave as satisfied customers. However, despite all of the above, Cinema Club thinks that even the most ardent of Queen fans will leave the cinema feeling unfulfilled. A fast-paced, enlightening film which struggles to break free.
The ‘ccc’ review💭
Bohemian Rhapsody explores the history and band dynamics of the four members of Queen, with the focus on the undoubted star, Freddie Mercury. The film documents the ups and downs of Queen, spanning the 15 years from when they were first formed in 1970 up to their now legendary Live Aid performance in 1985. But will it have you singing Don’t stop me now or going [Radio] Ga Ga.
Despite being over two hours long, and the film spanning 15 years we only, unfortunately, get a given a high level insight of one of the greatest ever musical acts the world has seen. The first half of the film follows a familiar pattern, Album-tour-album-tour, with the latter stages of the film zoning in on the problems Mercury faced. There is a lack of focus, potentially caused by the directorial issues where Brian Singer was fired by 20th Century Fox and Dexter Fletcher having to stepped in for the final 16 days of filming. Nonetheless, this is the most disappointing aspect of the film.
Throughout Bohemian Rhapsody, it alludes to the obvious issues with who took credit for songs, Mercury lifestyle of burning the candle at both ends and disagreements with managers and record labels….but it is all too brief. Even poor John Deacon, the bands bassist, hardly gets a prominent role. When Mercury tells his new band mates, May and Taylor, that he doesn’t play bass and they require a bassist – the next scene Deacon appears with very little fanfare. However, the film does gravitate towards Freddie Mercury’s personal and working relationship with Paul Prenter who becomes the villain of the film.
As we mentioned in our review of The Frontrunner, the director said he decided to focus on a moment in time rather than make a biopic. Bohemian rhapsody might have been served better if it focused on a particular moment or shorter period of time – perhaps when Freddie mercury went solo, his lifestyle and his fallout with Prenter and then the reunion for Live Aid. This could have a led to a much grittier film and provided a far deeper insight into Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek to be fair does well and makes you feel like that how Freddie was, and with an actor who threw himself into the role as much as Malek did, perhaps the film could have delved into the character more.
What we do get however, is a quick tour of Queen’s journey and the film serves as a reminder how great and iconic their songs were. For as much as the film does want to show the internal battles they had, to its credit, it remained committed to the music, and the recreation of their Live Aid performance does the band justice. Bohemian Rhapsody is a good starting point for anyone who has an interest in the band and will leave them wanting to know more.
Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury, alongside Joseph Mazzello (John Deacon), Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor), and Gwilym Lee (Brian May) as members of the band. A real effort has been put in to ensure they resemble the band to maintain that realism. Major credit to Rami Malek who really made the role his own. Instead of just copying a performance, Malek hired a movement coach to recreate Mercury’s enigmatic style and it really does feel that you are watching the star himself
Final Thoughts 💭
I guess being a 12a rated film, fabled stories (allegedly) about parties which included dwarvs with trays of cocaine strapped to their head and naked wrestling were not appropriate. Although very light on detail, this is a celebration of Queen and Mercury’s brilliance rather than about tabloids, so does the lack of scandal in the film really matter – in this instance it was the lack of real focus that mattered.
Queen were a phenomenal band, however this wasn’t a phenomenal film. Entertaining but this won’t rock you.