Bohemian Rhapsody is ready to hit theatres November 2, but thanks to an advanced screening, we had the chance to see the movie early.
The biopic follows Queen from the days of Farrokh Bulsara, aka Freddie Mercury, joining the group to the band’s historic appearance at Live Aid in 1985. From the opening scenes, the glamour and glitz is established with a theatrical sheen that mirrors Queen’s grandiose presence.
All eyes are on Rami Malek to see if his portrayal of the late Mercury does the frontman justice. Luckily, Malek slips into the role with ease, with an almost eerie depiction: he nails all of Freddie’s nuances, from his expressions, to his mannerisms, and speech delivery. The other members are also wonderfully portrayed: Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, and Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon all capture the spirits of their respective musicians.
The movie balances the more emotional moments with genuine humour. Scenes like the creation of “Bohemian Rhapsody” harmonies to the band’s back-and-forth banter deliver some brighter tones. But as anyone familiar with Mercury’s legacy knows, there are darker times that the film does not leave in the shadows. Prepare to have your heartstrings tugged at, as the movie doesn’t sugarcoat the inner-band turmoil.
One of the early skepticisms of the movie would be whether it muted Mercury’s sexuality or not, but his exploration in same-sex relationships as the band’s star continues to rise plays a pivotal role in telling his story. A good amount of screentime is dedicated to Mercury’s longtime lover Mary Austin, someone he referred to as “his only true friend”, but was not very visible to the public eye at the time. Freddie’s clash of identity, both at a personal level and as framed by the media, is a force that drives his metamorphosis from beginning to end.
In terms of hits, the Queen catalog has no shortage of them, and the film highlights a select few and provides insight into their creation. From all the weird objects used to make the noises found on the band’s first album, to the tape running thin as layers and layers of recordings were added to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, there is as much insight into the recording process as the band’s personal lives.
The crux of the film comes with the Live Aid performance, where the film closes a year before the band’s final tour in 1986. Whereas the movie moves through Queen’s story at a pretty rapid-fire pace, the concert is treated with much patience and delicacy. Here we see the rendition of the band’s set dissected, and how unanimous opinion supports that they were the highlight of the globally-broadcasted event. The lead-up to this moment is a fly-on-the-wall perspective of how one of rock’s biggest bands came to be; Live Aid shows the culmination of all the behind-closed-doors moments into a must-see spectacle.
Boehmian Rhapsody is an enthralling, entertaining film that doesn’t let its energy up over the two-hour duration. Queen fans will be eager to singalong in theatres, but won’t anticipate the tears that might be shed at the devastating moments.
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