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‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (review)

Produced by Graham King. Jim Beach
Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
Story by Anthony McCarten, Peter Morgan
Directed by Bryan Singer
Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton,
Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello,
Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers

 

“Can anybody find me somebody to love.”

Freddie Mercury, 1976

 

This is the theme and the overall feeling I am left with as I sat through Bohemian Rhapsody, the new marvelous Freddie Mercury biopic by the controversial and one time wunderkind director Bryan Singer. The film, in the headlines when Singer was fired from the film for erratic behavior hopefully won’t suffer the terrible behavior of its former helmsman.

Rami Malek is a treat and uncanny as Freddie. He truly embodies the flamboyant and extravagant nature of the one of a kind Mercury. The casting of the other members of Queen, Ben Hardy as Taylor, Joseph Mazzello as Deacon, and especially Gwilym Lee as Brian May reaches into the uncanny valley of look alike. They embody the gestures and the mannerisms of these master musicians to a T.

With everything that happened in the extraordinary story of one of the greatest bands in music history this film sometimes fall short in that it runs into the realm of “cliff notes’ and glossing over of events. Moments I was hoping they would spend more time on are breezed over and I get it, you can’t faithfully show everything in it’s entirety and do it service when you are limited to even 2 hours and 14 mins.

I get that this is the Freddie Mercury story of Queen, but I really wanted more from Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. I also wanted to see more of the recording process of some of my favorite songs. And focusing on the sound of the band. Basically I wanted a full on documentary on Queen.

That being said, what I got I loved. But like the song says, “I Want It All”.

As I said before, Malek is sublime as Mercury and there were moments watching the filmed performances of some of the live versions of songs that I have heard and seen thanks to the age of the music video and MTV that I forgot that I was watching actors and I was once again sitting on my living room floor watching the gesticulating Mercury and the balletic May’s guitar playing and I was a kid once more. You really understand the need and want of Mercury’s desperate need to be loved and wanted. Malek treats equally his tortured soul as well as his extroverted over the top public personality. He generously balances the quiet with the explosive, always treating both with loving care.

Without glossing fully over his homosexuality, Singer and writers Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan found a way to make it accessible to mainstream audiences whom may have not realized (yes, I too still can’t believe there are still people who don’t know that Freddie Mercury was gay but there are) this is a Hollywood film, after all. You would think we would be past this by now, but here we are,

I don’t want any of this to make it seem I disliked the film. I loved it very much. This film is a beautiful love letter to a man and a band that spent it’s and his entire career and life making people feel wanted, loved and a part of something wonderful. They wanted to be the music for the misfits. It makes total sense as a astrophysicist, a dentist, an electrician and a graphic designer to want to make music for the misfits of the world.

The cinematography of this film is stunning and some of the compositions and shots are as inspiring as the music and musicians it is capturing. Singer’s cinematographer of choice, Newton Thomas Sigel brings his unique eye to the film and his use of shooting reflections and through objects is beautifully utilized to show the veil which Mercury lives behind and his double life he had to live in the less accepting 70’s and 80’s while still remaining true to himself.

I can’t wait to see this film again. I have never, at the end of a film, wanted to actual stand up and cheer. The final 15 to 20 mins of this movie are an amazing re-filming and capture of the 1985 Live Aid concert performance that, as a 13 year old boy, blew my mind. Seeing it reenacted in this film almost flawlessly is one of the greatest captures of modern cinema and solidified my belief that Malek is a superstar and that Queen to this day, rules the world.

Go see this film. Laugh, cry, get mad, dance in your seat, and cheer like a fool because this is Freddie Mercury and to do any less would be not living up to your most fabulous self, darlings.

And in the immortal words of the divine man himself, “Give it to me one more time!”

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