Bohemian Rhapsody is genuinely so weak at connecting the lives of the performers to the power of their music it just becomes a slog when the songs don’t bring euphoric joy
Too much was expected of Bohemian Rhapsody, and the warning signs were there from the very beginning. The falling through of Sacha Baron Cohen’s vision, the sudden change of director to the inexperienced Dexter Fletcher mid-filming, and the over indulgent input from Brian May and the rest of Queen. Even the reported arguments between star Rami Malek and original director Brian Singer scream problems, but there was certainly hope around the film that it would become the equivalent of Queen’s fervent style in film form.
Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek) is a young design student desperate to make his mark on the world. Beginning with the changing of his name to Freddie Mercury, he sets out to find himself a band. Chancing upon an act he has obsessed over from his university, Mercury demands he becomes the lead singer, resulting in Queen’s first performance as the world now knows them.
Far too much of Bohemian Rhapsody reads as a list of facts and points of interest around the four band members. It’s like Singer has made a film based on their Wikipedia article, lacking so much life and excitement, a style that should have been impossible to create considering Queen are known worldwide for exactly that.
There’s no difference in the scenes focusing in their early gigs compared to their huge stadium shows, pillars of their late career with Freddie as the lead. Every scene, especially the concerts, seem so fake, promoting a real studio feel with absolutely no life coming from them. The shots of the crowd, the panning of the camera; There’s such a poor sense of realism coming from the atmosphere it damages even their legendary music. Liking Queen’s style should be irrelevant as to the enjoyment of the film, but Bohemian Rhapsody is genuinely so weak at connecting the lives of the performers to the power of their music it just becomes a slog when the songs don’t bring euphoric joy.
Obviously, Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t completely terrible, with a hugely powerful turn from Rami Malek, epitomising Mercury in an entirely engrossing way, he even proclaimed during a recent interview how much he came to obsess over the man after delving into his life. Mercury’s power as a man is made incredibly clear by Malek, and it takes Bohemian Rhapsody into territory the quality of the rest of the film absolutely did not deserve to reach.
Queen fans will be happy because the film has been made. But in reality, it is a shoddy attempt to capitalise on a world famous band, with such little effort placed into making it a quality adventure. Malek makes it entirely worth the watch, but other than that, the Wikipedia article is free and linked here: It’s just as good.
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