Are you happy, are you satisfied? There’s a scene in Bohemian Rhapsody, the new biopic of late Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, where Freddie and the band explain how they don’t want their music to be formulaic or conventional. Bohemian Rhapsody was always going to be utterly reliant on whoever played Freddie Bohemian rhapsody reviews and, fortunately, Rami Malek is more than up to the task, capturing the magnetism of the operatic, often campy performer. Offstage, his contrasting mix of vulnerability and self-assurance keeps the viewer invested in Freddie the character and in the movie even when the script is going through its cliche rise and fall of a rock star motions. Malek receives able support from Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, and Joe Mazzello as John Deacon, all of whom get mostly humorous moments to shine despite their roles being more thumbnails than fully realized characters.
Allen Leech mines for sympathy in his portrayal of Paul Prenter, a former assistant who became Freddy’s personal manager. Paul and Freddy’s falling out makes the former the closest thing to a flat-out bad guy in the movie. The movie is credited to X-Men director Bryan Singer, who was fired late into production and replaced by Eddie the Eagle’s Dexter Fletcher, and while we’ll likely never quite know for sure just how much of the final film is due to which director, Bohemian Rhapsody thankfully never feels like the product of two different visions. Everything happens relatively quickly and easily for Queen once Freddie joins the band and things then go pretty smoothly for most of the movie, up until the increasingly drug and booze-addled Freddie decides to try his hand at a solo career. There’s a decided lack of dramatic conflict and obstacles throughout a good chunk of the movie.
Sure, they’re a bit short on cash at the beginning but soon enough they’re rich and famous. Bohemian Rhapsody never really digs deep enough to give one a solid understanding of what made Freddie Mercury or his bandmates tick. We get the basics and largely see only the most complimentary traits of Freddie, guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, and bass player John Deacon, but finding out what each band member majored in at school is trivia, not character development. Mary is an emotional crutch for Freddie and is the person whose moving on, as depicted here, affects him the most profoundly. Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury in this biopic of the flamboyant singer. While it’s entertaining, Bohemian Rhapsody is a conventional and formulaic biopic about artists who were anything but. 1985’s Live Aid benefit concert for Ethiopia. Rami Malek stars as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in a biopic tracing the British rock quartet’s first 15 years.
Extra incisors — that’s how a young Freddie Mercury, played with magnetism and breathtaking physicality by Rami Malek, explains his four-octave vocal range to prospective bandmates. The involvement of bandmembers Brian May and Roger Taylor, as consultants and executive music producers, has more than a little to do with the gentle sheen that tamps down unruly narrative possibilities. But their involvement also amps the material’s musical authenticity. To the filmmakers’ credit, and even though they don’t entirely avoid the clunky factoid-itis that often plagues the genre, this is a biopic that favors sensory experience over exposition. One of the clunkier instances of information posing as dialogue relates the Bulsaras’ emigration from Zanzibar when Freddie was a teen. Freddie, have a Plan B if the music thing doesn’t work out.
As to the indefinable, transcendent something known as band chemistry, the movie doesn’t quite penetrate the mystery. When it clicks, the humor, both scripted and improvised, effortlessly underscores the characters’ bond. At crucial points in the offstage story, though, the performances of Lee, Hardy and Mazzello are reduced to reaction shots. Given the easy camaraderie and charged artistic mission that these performers conjure, there are too many wasted dramatic opportunities. Taking on a daunting task, he more than delivers. Though he’s only an inch shorter than Mercury was, he generally comes across as smaller and more delicate, and with his distinctive, enormous eyes, he’ll never be a ringer for the frontman. But, outfitted with the famous overbite and an exquisite array of costumes by Julian Day, and moving with a ferocious, muscular elegance, Malek is transformed.
When I took them out by the end of the film, to be played by Sacha Baron Cohen and then Ben Whishaw. It’s not clear what the context is here, great movie this one. Rami Malek was awesome — particularly touching was how the film depicted Mercury’s relationship with his Parsi Indian parents. Pale in comparison to the magic of Queen that Bohemian Rhapsody brought to life with such realism.
Alluded to but left offscreen is Mercury’s tabloid-fodder walk on the wild side, which Sacha Baron Cohen, earlier cast in the project, has said he’d hoped to explore. Malek’s devouring gaze suggests Mercury’s sexual appetites but also an aching innocence. Barely out of his 20s when Great Britain decriminalized homosexuality, the singer isn’t eager to attach a label to his way of life. He’s not interested in being a symbol or a spokesman. It’s all there in the way the newbie rocker wrestles with the mic stand, awkwardly at first and then taming it like a beast. From there, his confidence soars along with the band’s fame, his look morphing from haute hippie to harlequin catsuit to the stylized machismo of the gay leather scene.
The outstanding contributions of makeup and hair designer Jan Sewell are as essential as Day’s fashions and Aaron Haye’s rich production design. Biba, the trendsetting boutique where she works, and where she tenderly encourages his inner diva. Their love story is the most complicated and best developed relationship in the film, leaving no doubt as to why, well after truck-stop trysts have awakened Freddie’s attraction to men, Mary remains his dearest and most steadfast friend. They remain neighbors, too — his lamplight signals to her a desperately hopeful riff on Gatsby’s green light. But many scenes of the sad rich boy, alone on the satin sheets in his Kensington mansion, can’t shake off the whiff of cliché. That goes too for the over-the-top bacchanalia that Mercury throws, with the movie trying way too hard, much like its host-with-the-most protagonist, to be shocking — without tipping into R-rated territory. The music-biz elements of that saga strike a lighter note, as you might expect when Mike Myers is tapped to play an EMI exec, a quarter-century after Wayne’s World put this movie’s title song back on the charts. A nearly unrecognizable Myers is the hit-hungry money guy who once championed the group and now just doesn’t get the genre-bending, six-minute «Bo Rhap,» as a take-no-prisoners Freddie, bouncing about the office like a frog, calls their new song.
Bo Rhap the movie is on its surest footing in the music sequences. The experiments in the studio are joyous, the concerts properly loud, and John Ottman’s editing connects them fluidly, as when a bass-line doodle segues without a moment’s breath from the studio to Madison Square Garden. Call it pandering or love, but Queen built at least one song, «We Will Rock You,» around the idea of audience participation, and the movie is, most memorably, a celebration of what’s shared, whether the band is warbling about Beelzebub and the inscrutable «Galileo figaro magnifico,» or thousands of ticket holders are chanting an anthem’s chorus of one-syllable words. The rough edges of Freddie Mercury’s story might be smoothed over in this telling, the indulgences and debauchery sugarcoated. It’s a little bit of both. But, caught in a landslide of dispiriting headlines, at a moment when connection, curiosity and openheartedness feel like endangered species, the lingering exhilaration of that concert scene is pretty darn magnifico. The Hollywood Reporter, LLC is a subsidiary of Prometheus Global Media, LLC. A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Actor Rami Malek had to learn the piano before playing iconic singer Freddie Mercury in new biopic «Bohemian Rhapsody. His bandmate co-stars were equally as inexperienced with their instruments before they were cast.