BEIRUT: Tackling a story like the story of Freddie Mercury is no easy task especially when the icon’s legacy lives on, and there are new generations of listeners keeping him alive.
Yet, for screenwriter Peter Morgan, tackling this story is exactly what he did when crafting BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – and ensuring that the film would be a celebration of the music as well as carrying on the legacy of Queen and Freddie.
The film is built around who Freddie was – his background in Zanzibar, his coming to London as an immigrant, the prejudice he dealt with growing up, his shyness and insecurities about his looks, how he battled on so many different fronts, his brilliance as a songwriter and musician, how he found another family in the band, his reinvention as a larger-than-life performer.
Although the screenplay entertains and does have some masterful moments, it does lack in giving other moments enough time on screen in order for them to land with the intended punch. This is most likely due to the fact that the narrative covers a lot of events in the span of the film’s running time.
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY does deliversome colorfully hilarious moments, and the snarky dialogue uttered by the ensemble of characters is too good to resist.
One cannot talk about this film without mentioning the brilliant performances of the entire cast.
Emmy award winner Rami Malek’s spot on embodiment of Freddie Mercury induces goosebumps, and he gives it his all – not only honoring Queen’s leading man but also solidifying him as a force not to be reckoned with.
It was not in his moments of grandiose flamboyance, but in the subtleties and nuances where Malek’s strengths take center stage.
This is not anyone that Malek is taking on, but a man that is respected as a legendary talent and loved for his kindness and unforgettable nature.
The narrative does its part in balancing both Mercury’s ingenious nature as well as his flaws – and handles it in a way that is respectful towards Mercury’s legacy without shying away from truths.
Lucy Boynton who plays Mary Austin, the love of Mercury’s life, and her performance becomes the soul of the film paralleling her character’s effect on Mercury.
Gwilym Lee (Brian May), Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor), and Joe Mazzello (John “Deacy” Deacon) are the cherries on top of the already delicious sundae. Each brings forth their own interpretation of the band member they played and do so genuinely.
Visually the film uses a lot of 80’s inspired montages – and overall does a solid job at keeping the audience engaged.
Unfortunately, the Live Aid sequence at the end broke the audience’s suspension of disbelief due to the Live Aid audience quite clearly being completely computer generated.
Many critics seem to have been disappointed by the film and sought something more – yet BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY was as loud and flashy as it was sincere and heart-breaking; and witnessing it will not only remind you of how inspiring Queen was, but how one should never be afraid of their true voice.
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is the second film this year that looks at the lives of performers and exposes the darkness that lies within it – it almost feels like Hollywood is trying to get people to turn away from an already over-crowded industry.
It’s been over 25 years since Freddie Mercury’s death, yet the music lives on. Freddie redefined and transcended stereotypes, just as Queen’s music refused to be slotted into any traditional genre.
Perhaps that’s why the band is such a cross-generational, multicultural and global phenomenon, and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY honors that.
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