Thursday, October 25, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody

While Bohemian Rhapsody had a troubled road to make its way to the big screen (including firing director Bryan Singer halfway through production), the biopic centered around the lead singer of British rock band Queen satisfies largely due to a terrific lead performance from Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury and the band's extensive discography that fills the film with music without needing to repeat itself.

One of the most interesting choices of the film is using the music of Queen not just to underline specific events and themes but foreshadow, and even explore, them. Staying true to the biopic formula, Singer and his cast deliver a film that builds slowly, focused primarily on Mercury (to the detriment of the other band members) and climaxes in Queen's performance at Live Aid which provides true movie magic.

While not as inventive as the Queen themselves, the film is a fitting tribute to the band's legacy, a humorous response to those who wrote the band off early on, and a nod to the band working to include the audience in their music, particularly the live performance. It also proves to be an intriguing character study of Mercury himself.

If Malek shines as the film's star, Bohemian Rhapsody does shortchange the group's other members Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello). Really only exploring them in relationship to Mercury, we get to see pieces of the band's creative conflict which produce more than a decade of great rock and roll. Lucy Boynton makes off a little better in her role as Mercury's longtime love, but the film loses track of her once she falls out of Freddie's orbit. The combination of Malek's performance and Mercury's star power overshadows the film, but also provides the best dramatic moments as it highlights the loneliness and struggle within Mercury that helped shape him into the lead singer of Queen.

No comments: