TL;DR – At the heart is the powerful story of Freddie Mercury, but you can see the difficulties of adapting a life as grand as his into a standard film runtime.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There footage during the credits that you want to stay back for.
There have been a lot of productions that have been stuck in ‘production hell’ for years before they get made (and some never exit it) and one of the big casualties of this was the Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic. It had gone through multiple directors and leading cast before finally going into production, only to find out that the difficulties were not done there. With clashes on set and the inevitable replacement of the director befalling production. When this has happened in the past, it has led to at best an uneven film, but often times the final product is a complete mess. Thankfully, Bohemian Rhapsody avoids the latter but you can still see the problems under the hood.
So to set the scene, we open as Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joe Mazzello) are about to walk on stage at Live Aid Concert. We hear the crowd, feel the beats pulsate through the crowd, and then cut back to the very start when the band first met. We see those awkward first moments where everyone gets to know each other, their strengths and weaknesses. We see Freddie’s disagreements with his family and first steps at love with Mary (Lucy Boynton), and the seeds of disagreement heading their way.
can be a really interesting but also
awkward genre of film, especially when some members of the film are still alive
but others are not. So you have to wonder how close does this actually match up
with real life, and the answer is sort of. With any work of film, it does not
matter what you are adapting, you need to get it to fit the structure. So there
needs to be conflict at certain points to move the story on, even if they were
not there in the original work. For example, this is Faramir capturing Frodo
and Sam in The Lord of the Rings: The Two
Towers, which is not what happens in the book. This is just as true to real
life as it is to books and we see it here. Even without a great knowledge of
the band, you will probably be able to tell the points that have been stretched
to make it fit the narrative, and how it might not meet up with the real-life chronology. You also have to fit the
film to a certain rating and that means that at times you have to tone down
Freddie’s life which is a disappointment.
However, while you can feel these maneuvers going on behind the scene, one thing it does not do is undercut the performances. Rami Malek is acting with a new accent, prosthetic teeth, and is capturing one of the most famous people of the 20th century and he pulls it off in spades. All of the band works really well together, you feel both that tension but also that joy that comes from collaborative work. It is this that brings you through the film, as it is where the fun and the sadness is derived from. As well as this, I know it, you know it, you are going to be there for the music, and the film is at its best when it is focusing on that. Whether it is the recording sessions or the performances, this is where the film comes alive, as you get this remembrance of a time that will never repeat itself again.
in this section, we will be talking about
one scene from the end that encapsulates the film, and even though this is
based on real life, I do feel the need to just quickly put a [SPOILER] warning. The film starts and
ends on the Live Aid Concert and it is here that we see the best and also the
problems of the film. The performance pulls you into the music of the band, it
brings back to a time gone past and makes
you wonder what it would have been like to see it live. Also, as someone who
has seen the recordings, they did a really good job of getting the staging
right. However, it is also the part where we see the inconsistencies of the effects.
There is a clear distinction between the live audience and the visual effects
extension, and because they keep cutting between the two you keep getting that
tonal whiplash. Also after all the build-up, the fact that they cut We Will Rock You from the final edit was
an odd decision.
In the end, do we recommend Bohemian Rhapsody? Well maybe. From talking to people, there is a large range of opinions people have about the film. Now while I enjoyed the music and the band, and didn’t find the deviations from history to be too obnoxious, I walked out thinking that the film was a bit of fun but not much more. So if you just want to hear the music for a little while, then this might be the film for you, but if you really love the history of Queen, then all the changes will probably annoy you more than anything.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Bohemian Rhapsody
Directed by – Dexter Fletcher & Bryan Singer
Story by – Anthony McCarten & Peter Morgan
Screenplay by – Anthony McCarten
Music by – John Ottman & Queen
Cinematography by – Newton Thomas Sigel
Edited by – John Ottman
Starring – Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, Aaron McCusker, Meneka Das, Ace Bhatti, Priya Blackburn, Max Bennett, Dermot Murphy, Dickie Beau & Adam Rauf.
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 6; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13