Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.
Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see…
Bohemian Rhapsody is the story of Queen, although if we’re being honest, it favours front man Freddie Mercury quite heavily.
Freddie Mercury was a complicated, effervescent, talented, charismatic man. The film is much more straight-forward than that. He was also sexually flamboyant. While not exactly openly gay, at least not publicly, he did adopt a look that easily identified him as such. But he was more than gay or straight; he was fluid. He could wear a unitard on stage so confidently that he made people forget to be so judgmental. He won them over with his energy and stage presence. But after the show, Freddie was his own man. He did not lead a PG-13 life, so the PG-13 movie that attempts to immortalize it is of course sanitized. There is not much in the way of sex or drugs but the rock and roll – oh man.
That’s the reason to watch this film. The music is great, and the scenes revolving around the music tend to be its best. The decision to recreate their Live Aid set, widely considered to be the greatest 20 minutes of love music ever, in its entirety is the best thing that ever happened to a music biopic. I felt tears pricking my eyes the minute they stepped onto the stage.
Rami Malek is great. It’ll take a few minutes to see beyond the fake horse teeth he’s wearing of course, those are regrettable, but Malek is a fun casting choice who does indeed bring an intense Freddie energy to the role. The whole cast is great, actually, although I see Mike Myers is determined to make a comeback and I’m really not here for it, though he does have a pretty epic line.
Lucy Boynton has a meaty role as Mary. Mary was Freddie’s lifelong friend; they stayed close until the day he died. In the movie she gets to be Freddie’s significant other, which is great for the actress but less great for an audience who values authenticity. Yes she was a part of his life but she wasn’t his whole life. Mercury would have had many partners of course, but he had a great love, Jim, who lived with him during the last 6 years of his life, and nursed him when he got sick. Freddie died wearing Jim’s wedding ring. But in the film we get only the briefest glimpse of Jim and double eyefuls of Mary. Have they straight-washed a gay icon?
At any rate, if you came for the music, you’ll stay for it, and struggle not to burst out singing. The movie is more of a greatest hits compilation that an intimate evening with Freddie, but when the hits are so good, it’s hard to complain too loudly.