Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Rami Malek, Lycy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers
I have to admit I’d never heard of Bohemian Rhapsody or Queen until Wayne’s World (1992) came along and introduced me to it, I was a teenager back then, but thanks to Wayne and Garth I fell in love with that song. It wasn’t long before I decided to go past the Wayne’s World soundtrack and explored the rest of the bands body of work and it just so happened that I found one of my favorite bands ever. By the way, this is no side note thing, the fact that Wayne’s World introduced me to Queen, because it was Mike Myers film that made that song shoot to its chart topping position for the first time. Which is why it’s so fitting (and funny) to see Mike Myers playing the role of a music producer who doesn’t want to use the song as the albums first single. But anyways, here we are talking about Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), director Bryan Singer’s biopic on the legendary band. The film has had a rocky history from inception.
At one point Sacha Baron Cohen was going to play Freddie Mercury, but he backed out for creative differences. Among them the fact that Baron Cohen wanted to make a more adult oriented film and Queen’s surviving members wanted a more ‘PG-13’ version of the bands story. I have to admit, it would have been interesting to see a more adult oriented version of the film starring Sacha Baron Cohen, but more on that later. So anyhow, Singer ended up directing most of the film (which is why he gets full credit for it) and Dexter Fletcher who was going to direct at one point, ended up finishing the film when Singer got fired for Chronic Absenteeism and misconduct. Interesting thing, even though Singer got fired before the film was finished, he got full credit for the film because he’d filmed almost the whole thing when he got fired. So it’s still very much a Bryan Singer film. So anyhows, Baron left and Rami Malek took the role. What was the resulting product? Did all this back and forth in production end up producing a film worthy of Freddie Mercury’s awesomeness?
Of course, whoever took the role of Freddie Mercury would have big shoes to fill because Mercury wasn’t just any old singer, he was the ultimate performer, a tour de force on stage that when coupled with the rest of the band was just one of the most bombastic and soulful rock and roll bands you could ever wish for. Till this day Freddie Mercury is one of those voices that truly gets to my soul. It’s not just his voice, but what he sings about, it’s like they say in the movie, Queen was a band for the misfits, by misfits. They belong to us and we to them. Queen fans, and they are many, sing and know the bands songs with a passion, it’s one of those things that either you get or you don’t. So this review comes from a true fan of Queen, a guy who really loves Queen! So, did this film satisfy this fan?
Hell to the yes it did! It rocked me! First off, I have to commend Singer. The film looks beautiful and it has some amazing shots. There’s this moment where the camera comes from the heavens, down into the Live Aid concert and right onto the stage that was just beautiful. For some people it’s too beautiful, but I don’t know I freaking love the look of the film. The vibrant colors go with the bands flamboyance in my opinion. And speaking of this “it’s too clean” bull crap. Listen, what did you want? To see Mercury snorting cocaine and having sex with all his gay lovers? Well, all that is hinted at in the film in various ways, we see a table filled with alcohol and cocaine, we see Mercury making out with some guys. But the film isn’t so graphic with it. It’s not essential. The film works fine the way it is. Sure you could go really dark and nitty gritty, but it’s not like you have to. That being said, the film doesn’t shy away from showing us Mercury’s drug/sex infused life, it’s all there, it just not as graphic as some might want. Me? I thought the film had just the right amount of grittiness without going overboard. I thought the film hit the right balance. Would I have liked an ‘R’ rated version of this tale? Sure, it would have been interesting, but this version is the one we got and I must say I’m happy with it. Why?
I’m happy with it because it captured Freddie Mercury’s essence, it captured his personality and his journey. And make no exceptions people, this is Mercury’s story. Sure the band is there and they are a part of it. But it’s not like we’re going to dive into John Deacon’s life. Sure Mary Austin was the love of his life, but it aint her story either, Mercury is at center stage here same as he was in real life. Make no mistake this is Freddy Mercury’s story my friends. And for those of us who know it, it’s all there. Sure the chronology of it all has been tweeked, but what Biopic doesn’t do that for dramatic purposes? No biopic tells it exactly like it was.
I have to commend Rami Malek, his portrayal is amazing. He IS Mercury and I was blown away, even the rest of the band members look almost identical to their real life counterparts. And for those of you who are making fun of Malek’s teeth in the film, you should know that Mercury’s teeth where like that, they are not “cartoonish” as I have heard some describe them, Freddie did in fact have those huge front teeth and he chose to keep them to stand up to those who made fun of him and he became the biggest voice in Rock and Roll with them. Bottom line though, Malek sold me on his portrayal and he got to me. There’s this moment where he is actually writing Bohemian Rhapsody where he’s getting all teared up as he writes, that says so much without saying a word.
And about the film tearing you up, well it will. If you know about Mercury’s life story you will be heart broken. But at the same time, you will feel the awesomeness that was Mercury and the band. They would get into people’s hearts and that’s why when Queen got up on stage during the Live Aid concert in 1985, that’s why those thousands sang back with a passion! By the way, that scene in the film is a real show stopper. You’ll get goose bumps. I teared up more than once during the movie (like I said I’m a fan) but that last concert scene, wow. Interestingly enough, the Live Aid concert was the first thing they shot of the film and It’s amazing. It captures the awesomeness of that day and let me tell you, they didn’t pull back, it’s an accurate representation of that day. You feel the thousands, you feel the magnitude of the event. And you do feel Mercury giving the performance of a life time. So screw the naysayers, I think some of the negative feedback comes from people who either hate what he represented (total freedom) or simply don’t know how to have a good time at the movies anymore. Me? I sang every song and clapped at the appropriate time during “Radio Ga-Ga” You my friends, should do the same.
Rating: 5 out of 5