Arriving in England Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek) is desperate to escape his immigrant background. Forming the rock band Queen, Farraokh (now under his new name of ’Freddie Mercury’ ) wants his music to connect with as many people as possible. However the path to world-wide rock stardom turns out to be a jagged one and it will challenge this shy, but exuberant Londoner in unseen ways.
...has finally arrived, and as expected it is almost fireproof in its appeal.
After a long time in development, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the biographical movie about rock group Queen and its charismatic front man Freddie Mercury, has finally arrived, and as expected it is almost fireproof in its appeal. With its catchy track-list of hits, the film’s light narrative is more a biography about how each song came into being than the band itself. For whilst, the marketing would have you believe that this is Freddie’s story, the final movie is neither expressly about him nor the band. If anything it’s somewhere in-between – and there’s a reason why.
With a troubled production history (where original director Bryan Singer had to be fired mid-way through), British director Dexter Fletcher was brought into finish the movie. So, although entertaining, the result is neither as deep or focussed as many would have liked. Couple that with a loose sense of historical accuracy, and timelines changed to serve a guiltily feel-good ending and you have the current edit. However, fortunately at its very heart is the central performance of actor Rami Malek.
From his very first shoulder wiggle and defiant toss of the nose, Rami Malek is Freddie. The stage (as with the film) belongs to him and him alone. As a result, it’s no exaggeration say that his performance saves the film. Even with a script that is too shy to dig into Freddie’s personal life, Rami still gives Freddie all he’s got. Although slighter of build and clearly wearing prosthetic teeth, Malek’s performance is all about intensity. Whether it’s bottled up at the beginning, being pricked by racist barbs later or soaring above of a screaming crowd, Rami understands Freddie’s fire and sweeps you up with his performance. There are also some fun, disguised cameos along the way, with nods and winks to the band’s influence, whilst skirting around the other band members’ lives. The actors cast all look the part but the movie never really lingers on them long enough to get beyond Bryan’s perma-mop, Roger’s hedonism or John Deacon’s ‘Captain Sensible’ wardrobe.
In the end the question is ‘will ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ be the searing Queen movie you hoped for?’ It all depends which Freddie you’d wished for. However with a blinding central performance and comically accurate sense of detail, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is a hugely entertaining biopic whose songs still hit high notes even if its dramatic down beats don’t plumb the depths.2