By, HEMA RENGASAMY
Iconic, outrageous and phenomenal are a few words that many associate with the band Queen. The biopic about the band’s success and rise to fame, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” however, pales in comparison. The movie was made for fans of the band, for those who knew the story that they are there for.
The film opens with Freddie going on stage for the Live Aid performance in 1985, giving the audience a glimpse of what is to come before going back to the very beginning of Queen in 1970. We meet a young Freddie working at Heathrow and looking for his place in the rock and roll world. The audience is introduced to Brian, Roger and the band Smile.
The actors Rami Malek, Gwilyn Lee, Ben Hardy, and Joseph Mazzello portray Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon respectively. Freddie’s extravagance, Brian’s diplomacy, Roger’s confidence, and John’s delicate nature have all been captured very precisely. Although the film could have been more focused, the fans were still given characters they recognized.
Although the cast is fantastic and the cinematography is bold just like the band, the writing falls flat. Anyone would have thought it impossible to write a script that lasts only 134 minutes and tells the story of 15 years.
Well, it is impossible to do it well.
The movie was very fast-paced for the first half, and the audience was not given a story, they were handed anecdotes, bits, and pieces. There was not a chance to connect or relate to the characters. It felt as if the writers presumed that everyone watching the movie were fans and knew the story already.
Freddie’s identity crisis dominates the beginning of the second half of the movie. His breakup with Mary Austin and his relationship with Paul Prenter marks the beginning of this portion of the movie. At this point, it felt as if the creators of this biopic should have made a large decision prior to filming.
What was the story going to be? Freddie’s life or the rise of Queen?
Neither is depicted with the attention it deserves. The movie does not show the work and effort Queen put into their first two albums which catapulted them into fame nor the work behind the megahit Killer Queen. Brian May’s health that caused the U.S. tour to be cut short was completely ignored. The movie glosses over Freddie’s sexuality in many aspects. Freddie’s solo attempt is shown as a brief lapse as opposed to a real turn in the band.
The movie simply compiled the greatest hits by Queen and offered a simple glimpse into the band and Freddie. There wasn’t an insight into their struggles. There was a little bit of drama, but not enough. Freddie Mercury had all the great lines, the sass and the attitude. Everyone else was pushed to the side.
Despite a couple of historical inaccuracies, the movie does capture the basic rise and fall of the band. Most fans of Queen’s music and Freddie Mercury will be able to appreciate the movie for its attempt to tell the story of Queen, but for those looking for a story, this movie will disappoint.
GRAPHICS BY HANNAH COHEN