Review of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

bohemian_rhapsody.jpg This film has received a lot of hype here in the UK but is it as good as they say it is? Yes, it is. It does not always make for comfortable viewing but it ends on such a high it will leave you humming the music. “Bohemian Rhapsody” will appeal to fans of the music but perhaps is worth others watching it as well as it is the story of a young “Freddie Mercury” (played by the quirky “Rami Malek”) who with his outrageous personality had a difficult time growing up with his straight-laced parents. After becoming the lead singer for a small rock group, soon to be known as “Queen”, his personality as well as his strong musical talent shone, taking those around him along for the ride.

Mercury's path to stardom was not always smooth sailing which we see here with the production of, arguably, Queen's greatest song of all “Bohemian Rhapsody” composed during an escape to the country. After the song being turned down by producer Ray Foster (played, amusingly, by Mike Myers in a self-referential nod to the film “Wayne's World” in which Myers starred that featured the song in a highly memorable sing-along scene in a car) “Bohemian Rhapsody”, at almost 6 minutes long, could not be played on the radio so it was only when a brave DJ chose to play it did it become a hit. Now it is widely considered one of the best rock songs of all time. In this film we also see Mercury's personal life was not all smooth sailing either with his lifetime attraction to Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) who wanted more than Freddie was willing to give so eventually went her own way leaving Freddie behind. At the top of Queen's fame Mercury fell into the showbiz lifestyle with drink and drugs as well as hangers-on (including his involvement in a hedonistic gay lifestyle that would eventually lead to his death) which all alienated those close to him and eventually led to the break up of Queen. It is not all gloom and doom here though and, not giving too much away, it is fair to say Queen's reuniting for Live Aid – an absolute triumph.

Rami Malek, fresh from his starring role in the compelling “Mr Robot” series, does an incredible job as Mercury even if his teeth are slightly too OTT, often distracting from his dominating performance. He really embodies the spirit of Mercury. This performance shows Mercury as an incredibly naive man trying to find his way in the world both with his music and his personal life. The fame he eventually receives allows him to indulge in all of his outrageous desires with those closest to him pushed aside. It is a strong and often tragic statement. Boynton as Mary Austin puts on a tragic performance who never loses her love of Freddie but sadly has to seek a relationship elsewhere when he is unable to give her the life she wants. As for the other members of the band, Gwilym Lee as the level-headed, mild-mannered lead guitarist Brian May (festooned with appropriately amazing hair), Ben Hardy as the increasingly disillusioned drummer Roger Taylor and Joseph Mazzello as bass guitarist John Deacon. All take a back seat to the dominance of Malek's Mercury who rips up the screen every moment he is on it.

The film looks, and sounds, great. Despite being just over two hours in length it never seems to really drag along except for the cringe-worthy middle section of debauchery where Mercury indulges his fantasies. There is some difficult stuff here but it is handled with great sympathy by the filmmakers. The technology employed really does bring a sense of what it must have been like to see Queen live at Live Aid in the old Wembley Stadium is truly astounding and utterly convincing. An amazing and compelling story of a very enigmatic man struggling to find his way.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2018-12-01

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Studio: GK Films

Year: 2018

Length: 134 minutes

Genre: Melodrama

Other reviewed films by Bryan Singer: