Bohemian Rhapsody movie review: Rami Malek’s film makes a little silhouette of a big man, Freddie Mercury
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Rami Malek, Aiden Gillen, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee
Enjoying bad films is not a new phenomenon. I, too, have seen myself get excited for Fast and Furious or Twilight at some very low points in my life. However, it’s one thing to want to seek mindless entertainment from buff dudes driving fast cars or pale vampires lusting after schoolgirls, and totally another to find it in the biopic of a generation’s most iconic star who spent a lonely life, struggled with his identity, racism, homophobia and spent his final days fighting one of the most dreaded diseases known to mankind. Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody takes so much from Freddie Mercury’s life to entertain the audience but has very little consideration for the man himself.
Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of one of Britain’s biggest musical exports to the world, Queen -- the iconic band that redefined rock and roll for a million song lovers in 1970-80s. At the centre of the band (and this movie) is its lead singer, Freddie Mercury, played to a toothy perfection by Rami Malek. Born Farrokh Bulsara to a Parsi-Indian family, he is the son his father would rather not have. We first meet him as a baggage handler at the Heathrow Airport, writing songs when not fighting racist co-workers.
Within the next five minutes of the film, he has already joined a band, sang a first song with them and renamed it Queen. He meets a girl, falls in love, proposes wedding, goes on a tour of America and learns about his true sexual orientation, all in the next 30 minutes. The foundation of the band is laid in a jiffy and the first real calm (so to say) arrives when the band records it monumental song, Bohemian Rhapsody. Essentially, the film’s best moments are undoubtedly when the band gets down to create music. Whether fighting over the many Galileos in Bohemian Rhapsody, inventing the foot stomping motion for We Will Rock You or discovering the guitar riff for Another One Bites The Dust, the energy in the room, in the performances of the actors, and even among those watching the movie was for anyone to feel.
The second half finally lets out some steam and gets more calm as we watch Mercury accept his homosexuality, even though others around him still see him as an anomaly that deserves to be poked around for sensational answers for their insensitive, curious questions. We watch him fall into the pits of loneliness, struggling to keep his real self hidden from prying eyes as unsubtle, villainous characters—that seem to have stepped straight out of a Disney fairytale and lime green, evil fog—keep him marinating in alcohol, drugs and men. The band falls apart as does his life.
Then suddenly—as if helped by a divine intervention from Karan Johar himself—our so far utterly gullible, innocent, unsuspecting hero discovers the leeches that were sucking on his life. The assumption of wholesomeness and the disregard for nuances on the director’s part seem too jarring to ignore. But hey, it all fades away as soon as the bangers start sounding and Rami uproots that mike off the ground.
Every time a song comes on—and it happens a lot—the lyrics get plastered across the screen for the audience to sing along. Suddenly, you find yourself in a Japanese karaoke bar, singing Under Pressure as neon words float in front of your eyes. Which man is dying of AIDS? The one dancing right there? Ah, who cares when the song is so good? What? It’s his story? Well...
Nothing really matters to me.
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