Oh God…can you believe that at one point Sacha Baron Cohen was set to star as Freddie Mercury? Dodged that bullet. There is no denying that Freddie Mercury is one of the greatest and most iconic voices in the history of music. But not many people in today’s age know the rise and fall of the band Queen. But even if you don’t know much about the band, you know the song Bohemian Rhapsody and probably can recite all the words decades later. After eight years of development hell, the story behind the man, the band, and the song is finally here. Now it’s probably safe to say this film isn’t going to be in the sea of Oscar bait this year, but it is a very solid look at the greatest hits of Queen.
Bohemian Rhapsody begins in 1970 with a young man named Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek) working at the airport in London while his dream is to hit the stage as the frontman of a band. When Farrokh…I mean Freddie, stumbles onto a band in the need of a voice, his flamboyant personality and the band creative genius come together to create the band known as Queen. It doesn’t take too long for the band to be discovered by major names in the music industry and while the band enjoys some moderate success, it isn’t until they come out with the song Bohemian Rhapsody that the group ascends to new levels.
I think the biggest criticism of this film is going to be that this movie feels pretty disjointed with its narrative. This is mainly due to the fact that Director Bryan Singer has a difficulty balancing the drama with the music. The film is at its best when they focus on the band creating their biggest hits and the film fails when they have to talk about the downfall of Freddie Mercury’s personal life. I heard this week that some people were upset that the film didn’t dive deeper into Mercury’s sexuality and to that I say “What film were you watching?”. For those who don’t know, Freddie died of AIDS in the early 1990s after being diagnosed five years earlier. While the movie doesn’t show you his wild drug-fueled orgies, is it implied that Mercury’s sexual lifestyle is what led to his disease and death. They even go into depth to display how his sexuality affected his relationship with his former fiancée and longtime friend, Mary Austin so I don’t believe those complaints are founded.
The film ends with the near full 20 minute set of Queen’s 1985 performance at the Live Aid concert (a concert you can find out more about here) from Wembley Stadium in London, a performance that has gone down in history as one of the greatest rock performances ever. You can tell that the people behind the scenes really tried to make the most of this film for the very least out of respect of Mercury. While Bohemian Rhapsody is more positive than negative, it is also more of a stand up double than the home run it was aiming for.