Written by Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan, directed by Brian Singer and starring Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic about the life and times of Queen and the band’s front man, Freddie Mercury
Bohemian Rhapsody is a beautiful tribute to Freddie Mercury. It skips over his last sickly, ailing days spent suffering from AIDS related symptoms (which could have easily been used for dramatic effect and Oscar pandering fodder, but Freddie was dynamic enough on his own so all of that wasn’t necessary) and cuts it all off at the 1995 Live Aid concert before Freddie became gravely ill. Bohemian Rhapsody features little to no man love (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but this is a term coined by my daughter when we would watch Queer as Folk together. Anytime it looked like something inappropriate for a 9 year old was about to be shown she would yell out, “Man Love!” and I would have to change the channel until the scene was over and then turn back again.) and is rated PG-13.
I do not believe the PG-13-ness of it all was done as a way of “straight-washing.” Mercury’s sexual, bi-sexual, homosexual, history. People can complain about anything and make up a term for that complaint in a heartbeat). I’m just half-kidding with you all. I know exactly what the term means and I understand how it is being applied, but I don’t think that this is what is going on here. I agree that in Bohemian Rhapsody Freddie’s sexuality early on was treaded upon quite lightly, but his sexuality is not the only thing that is sanitized in this film. There was nothing accurate about the way the band met or was formed; it wasn’t made clear that Freddie never legally married Mary, there wasn’t one instance of drug use; and I’m sure there were a few more things that weren’t historically accurate, but I don’t have time to dig that deep and report back right now. Oscar season is upon us, and as highly anticipated as this movie is/was I gotta keep moving forward.
Queen band mates Brian May and Roger Taylor had/have creative control over the content of this film so, of course they didn’t want to make “The Freddie Mercury Story.” (Had it been that story it would have been much darker and grittier and the straight washing claim of it all may have been valid.). Queen band members wanted to be included in the story and have their stories told as well. So, perhaps it is less about straight washing and more about showing respect to the subject and/or simply writing the story the way they wanted it written, and the balance of the story not to be strictly about Mercury and certainly not solely from his point of view.
Sure, this could have been an opportunity to educate about the AIDS epidemic and so much more, but that’s not the story they wanted to tell. May and Taylor don’t have to explain themselves to anyone. No one can tell them (or me, and I’m kinda starting to take this personally, imagining myself as a person who has a platform to convey my story and being criticized on how to tell my own story) how they should convey their own story. Everyone loved Freddie, but they were there too, ya know? Not to mention the fact that the only one who could accurately tell the sexual part of Freddie’s story would have been Freddie himself, and considering how private he was about his doings (and his true fans understood and still guard his privacy), call it what you want, closeted or whatever, it’s doubtful that this man would have wished that the sexual part of his life to be shared in that way. It’s just about showing respect for a friend/band member/colleague/family member. I like the fact that the film focuses on Mercury’s relationships with music, the band, his family and Mary. It focuses quite heavily on his musical process and genius.
Dear Acting Gods…, Rami Malek becomes Freddie Mercury when he performs on stage. Off stage, at times he becomes somewhat of a caricature of Mercury, but when you think about it, wasn’t Freddie Mercury sort of a caricature of himself? He was a dude who felt he had a lot to hide. In acapella portions of the movie, you hear Malek’s voice. He took voice lessons, studied Mercury and how he danced/spoke/moved/etc. and took piano lessons for more authenticity in his performance. I read that Malek is credited with the idea of recreating Freddie’s famous teeth. As if this movie could have been done and felt authentic without paying homage to the teet! Those teeth were part of Mercury’s legend. And they look much better in the movie than Freddie’s actually looked. It might have been too distracting to attempt to totally recreate them I suppose. And Freddie’s movie teeth are too white. Freddie did not whiten his teeth! He arose at a time before celebrity tooth whitening was a thing. Aside from that, Malek expertly channels Freddie’s energy on stage and his sadness/loneliness behind the scenes. The supporting cast is stellar. The likeness to the band is freakishly uncanny.
There’s nothing to be said about the music. It’s Queen so it’s all good and you won’t hear a complaint coming out of me. I enjoyed every bit of it. Loved it!
Bohemian Rhapsody earned 9 out of 10 bloops. It is an excellent film if you are willing to take it for what it is. You will want to get up out of your seat, sing along, clap you hands at least, at the end. This is a feel good movie and that’s the way it was intended to be. A respectful tribute to one of the greatest voices of our time. Rest in Power Farrokh a/k/a Freddie.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
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