Bohemian Rhapsody  Review: Freddie Mercury Deserves Better
More concerned with the trivial, skimming through the essential, and opting for a rather conventional approach to bring on screen the life story of the very man who defied all stereotypes & shattered every convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers of all time, there is absolutely no denying that Bohemian Rhapsody goes out on a euphoric high but as an in-depth look at the illustrious band & its flamboyant frontman, this is as trite, formulaic & mediocre a biopic can get.
For a biopic so trite, formulaic & mediocre, Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) sure goes out on a triumphant high. Powered by Rami Malek’s stupefying performance as Freddie Mercury and leaving everyone breathless with its immaculately replicated 1985 Live Aid concert, the film still leaves a lot to be desired since it never truly realizes what was up for grabs.
Bohemian Rhapsody chronicles the journey of the legendary rock band Queen and their lead singer Freddie Mercury from their formative years to that famous Live Aid concert which many still consider to be the greatest live performance in rock music history. The plot focuses on Freddie’s personal struggles & professional challenges over the years.
Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects & X-Men), the issue I have with Bohemian Rhapsody is that it is more concerned with the trivial, skims through the essential, and opts for a rather conventional approach to bring on screen the life story of the very man who defied all stereotypes & shattered every convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers of all time.
Many of the topics one expected this film to touch upon are only glanced at from a safe distance plus the jumbled set of events unfold as if the plot is in a hurry to make it to the final segment which fortunately manages to live up to the hype and prevents the film from derailing completely. But remove that and Malek’s commitment to his role, and all that’s left behind is one hell of a mess.
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As an in-depth look at the illustrious band & its flamboyant frontman, the film never even attempts to dig deeper into their psyche and simply wanders on the surface instead. As a biopic, its essence is effectively diluted by the historical inaccuracies & excessive dramatic license it takes, many of which were unnecessary or uncalled for. And as a celebration of Queen & Freddie Mercury, it is lacking the required passion, tenacity & gusto for the most part.
It is only during the Live Aid segment that Bohemian Rhapsody finds its footing but it’s got less to do with the trajectory of the plot & character arcs and more with the accuracy evident in the replication of that 1985 set piece. It is the only moment when both the film & Rami Malek are on the same page and speaking the same language, thus resulting in a convincingly epic, vivid & exhilarating sequence. If only the entire film was like that!
Whether the movie works on filmmaking & storytelling terms is undoubtedly debatable but even most critics can’t dispute the authenticity of Rami Malek’s impressive performance here. Embracing his role from the inside out, Malek brings the larger-than-life persona to cinematic life with panache, nailing nearly every nuance of Freddie’s mannerisms, and embodies him perfectly during the Live Aid segment. Others ably play their part but Malek is on another level here.
On an overall scale, Bohemian Rhapsody is wholly dependent on Rami Malek who almost single-handedly carries the entire film over the finish line with his career-best work. However, it is also suffice to say that both Queen & Freddie Mercury deserve a much better biopic than this hackneyed treatment. The finale does help wrap things up on an electrifying & euphoric note and solely because of that, despite the glaring issues & obvious shortcomings, both the casual filmgoers & obsessive Queen fanatics will come out pleased & satisfied.