Movie review: Bohemian Rhapsody

In Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek is as good as advertised as Freddie Mercury, the dynamic lead singer of the band Queen.

Bohemian RhapsodyOnce again, I played hooky from work to see a movie, this time Bohemian Rhapsody. I keep forgetting that just before the Academy Awards, the Regal Theater in Colonie Center brings back some of the Oscar-nominated films.

The good news: Rami Malek is as good as advertised as Freddie Mercury, the dynamic lead singer of the band Queen. He may I’ve read that when Malek had the false teeth in, it helped him in developing the character. Those who care about such things note: “After wins at the SAGs, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes, [he] has run away with the [awards] season,” and will likely win an Oscar.

Also, the makeup and casting people have created a cast that looks very much like the other members of the group: Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, and Joe Mazzello as John Deacon, although they all appear more annoyed than angry during the band’s arguments, many of which, I’ve read, didn’t actually happen.

The real Mary Austin, Freddie’s sometimes girlfriend, played by Lucy Boynton, seemed satisfied by the portrayal of her relationship with Mercury.

I liked the stunt casting of an almost unrecognizable Mike Myers; the Wayne’s World movie (1992) helped a six-minute song to chart again.

Of course, the eclectic music of Queen is on display. The last scene of Live Aid in 1985 was fun. I saw a couple people in the theater crying at the end. All in all, it might have been a serviceable biopic with a (relatively) happy ending.

The BIG problem is that the movie is emotionally dishonest. It is well known that films based on the lives of real people take liberties with minor characters, dialogue, even chronology.

But the brief movie revelation is that Freddie had AIDS BEFORE the climatic Wembley concert in 1985, when he wasn’t diagnosed until 1987. As this article and others note, the movie then necessarily glosses over the societal response to the disease.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a mostly feel-good movie – did I mention it has the music of Queen? – and one can certainly enjoy it, particularly if you know nothing of the era. But don’t take it too seriously as a real depiction of Freddie Mercury’s life.

Undoubtedly, this is why it’s the worst-rated film of the Best Picture nominees among critics (61% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), yet is a crowd-pleaser (88% positive).

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