The story of iconic rock band Queen and there larger than life lead singer Freddie Mercury takes center stage in Bohemian Rhapsody from 20th Century Fox. Rami Malek delivers an award-worthy and star making performance as Freddie Mercury. Director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Anthony McCarten film spans 15 years of Freddie’s life, as his band becomes rock icons. Singer mostly known for his work on bigger budgeted film does a fine job with his first biopic. Bohemian Rhapsody is an immense crowd pleaser.
Our introduction to the musically gifted Farrokh Bulsara aka Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) shows him handling baggage at Heathrow Airport where he is a daily victim to racist comments. Farrokh longs to be a star and knows that FATE has bigger plans in store for his life. One night Farrokh decides to go to a nightclub to see a performance of rock band Smile. After being in awe of their performance, Farrokh life’s changes when he meets Smile’s guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and their drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy). As luck would have it, Smile’s lead vocalist has just quit and Farrokh offers to be the group’s new lead singer.
The trio recruit bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) and change their name to Queen while Farrokh changes to name to Freddie Mercury and the band goes on to astonishing success. Along the way Freddie develops a lifelong loving and friendly relationship with Mary Austin (Lucy Boyton).
One of my favorite genres of cinema has always been musical biopics. From the moment I saw Rami Malek set photos as Freddie Mercury, I knew that Bohemian Rhapsody was going to be one of my must see fall movies. Granted Bohemian Rhapsody follows the standard musical biopic template, however Malek’s performance as Freddie is so good, that I can forgive the clichés.
Malek does lip singing to dubs of the real Mercury’s voice however he does it so well you won’t even notice. Malek’s humanization of Freddie is where the film truly shines. Whether it is Freddie’s relationship with his band to his friendship with Mary Austin and eventual love affair Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker), Malek is a revelation. Malek delivers one of the best performances of the fall season.
The rest of the band really does not get a chance to shine in terms of a story arc, which is understandable given Mercury iconic status. I respect Bryan Singer’s choice to use semi unknown actors to make up the rest of Queen, as a well-known face may have been a distraction. One of the films best moments involves an unrecognizable Mike Myers in a hilarious cameo. Myers portrays a record exec who has a dislike for the group’s signature song “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
My one small complaint about Bohemian Rhapsody is the omission of Freddie’s work with Michael Jackson. A quick cameo would have bene a great moment to see, in particular for younger fans going to see the movie, who may not have been aware of the duo’s work.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a riveting biopic of Queen displaying the bands highs and lows before culminating in rip roaring recreation of Queen’s still iconic 1985 Live Aid performance. Freddie Mercury once said, “I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend”. With a winning lead performance from Rami Malek and awesome soundtrack, Bohemian Rhapsody succeeds in solidifying the legendary Freddie Mercury.
FINAL GRADE B+