Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Review
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If Freddie Mercury had been asked to write the story of his life, Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) likely would have been the end result. Flashy, loud, poignant, and heartbreaking, the music – for better or worse – pulls the events together into a raucous drama of fan service and nods to a lost genius.
Rami Malek is Freddie, and make no mistake there will be Oscar Buzz surrounding his portrayal. The film opens and closes around Queen’s Live Aid performance, and in between, there is the fateful meeting with Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy). Add John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) and with a few minor changes in style and song, Queen is born. They play, they squabble, they question each other’s appearance. We see Freddie’s life-long friendship with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) flourish and falter. We have a villain in Paul Prenter (Allen Leech) who is every bit the jealous backstabbing homewrecker you’d expect. The timeline is altered a bit to fit the movie because everyone loves a happy ending but you’ll be fine with it. Really.
Brian May never doesn’t have fabulous hair.
The music is fantastic.
Bohemian Rhapsody is fan-service heavy. There are plenty of little prophetic bon mots that make the audience nod and chuckle and you can debate forever if they’re necessary, if that’s your post-movie thing. There can be music or there an be a faithful retelling of the band’s origins and Freddie’s life, but in a two-hour Hollywood affair, I don’t believe you can have both. With manager Jim Beach (portrayed by Tom Hollander in the film) and executive music producers Brian May and Roger Taylor, they focused more on the music and the joy it brought to Queen and their fans rather than the self-destructive love/hate spiral Freddie had for himself. I think that’s important because he’d want to be remembered as a fabulous, flamboyant entertainer.
Look, you can go in and nitpick about the errors, and pout that things were out of order or he’s wearing his mustache too soon – this isn’t a Ken Burns Documentary, it’s not even an A&E/History Channel Special Event. It’s a celebration of all the best Freddie Mercury and Queen had to offer. You’re here for the music and the glossy light spin meant to backlight the story behind the man in front of the band. You’ll forgive them for composite characters and rearranging the timeline and what costumes were worn where because this isn’t about the details. This is the post-wake retelling of a legend, the kind with loosened ties and dinks in hand and every laughing and remembering things just a little different, and that’s fine. Bohemian Rhapsody is a celebration. Leave the dissections to the undertaker
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) is Rated PG-13 for swears, hip thrusts, kissing, so.much.drama, the enjoyment of illicit drugs, and the seething hatred you’ll feel for Paul Prenter.