Film Review: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Friends and families filter into the dimly lit gymnasium, finding their spots on the squeaky wooden bleachers. As the home team rushes in from the large double doors, the crowd is not only brought to their feet from the excitement of the team’s swift arrival, but also by an electrifying beat: stomp, stomp, clap, stomp, stomp, clap. “We Will Rock You” has been a classic anthem of every sporting event since 1977, a song created by the legendary rock band, Queen.
While not necessarily avid sports game attendees, Queen is among some of my favorite musical groups of all time. This sentiment is also true for many others of different generations and walks of life, which was evident just by looking at the variety of people who attended the showing of Bohemian Rhapsody at my local movie theatre.
Where some may have felt that the film fell short in terms of representation in its early releases of trailers, historical accuracy and portrayal of more provocative scenes, it does make up for it with the sheer spirit and adrenaline that encapsulates the life of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, and the creation of a sense of togetherness.
In early releases of the trailer of the film, there was some backlash involving the discussion of Mercury’s sexuality, which claimed he was falsely portrayed as more of a traditionally heterosexual character rather than an icon of the LGBTQIA community. In addition, the film is more of a dramatization of Freddie’s life and the band’s time together, not unlike the recent film A Star is Born, which creates a similar feeling of intense emotional trauma. Taking this into account, one should not expect every instance in the film to be exactly in the order that they occurred in real life, nor should they be looking for all the provocative details of Mercury’s life.
At the same time, Bohemian Rhapsody certainly does not display Mercury nor his band members as perfect specimens of the human race. While Mercury delves deeper into his struggle with his inner-self and his own sexuality, which does fill in where trailers may not have been so clear, the audience similarly questions him along the way. From his relationship with Mary Austin, interactions with his family, including when he decides to change his name from Farrokh Bulsara to Freddie Mercury, his relationship with Paul Prenter and Jim Hutton, to the ultimate discovery of his AIDS diagnosis, we all experience the intense ebbs and flows of his life.
Yet, in the end we see the beauty of this life, one where these flaws made him who he was and reminds us what he and the members of Queen created for all of us: anthems of our lives that can bring any crowd up on their feet. He should be remembered as the true performer that he was.
Ultimately, the film also creates a reminder of the sense of togetherness that music like that of Queen can really create. Rami Malek shines through his portrayal of the bold, confident and spunky Mercury, and fellow actor portrayals, who surprisingly all accurately resemble their real-life counterparts, of Brian May, the lead guitarist, Roger Taylor, the drummer, and John Deacon, the bass guitarist, similarly accomplish a cheeky and humorous dynamic.
The group was unique and experimental with their music, which made for endearing shots of the band joking around in the recording studio. As Malek noted in the film regarding the band’s defining feature, “we’re four misfits who don’t belong together playing for other misfits…we belong to them”.
By the end, I was brought to tears just thinking of how much joy Mercury’s voice has brought to the world and how his spirit lives on even beyond his heart-wrenching death. Especially with the conclusion being the Live Aid concert of 1985, one cannot help but be moved by such a magical performance. Bohemian Rhapsody serves as a reminder that no matter who you are, what you stand for or where you come from, we all stand as one when we listen to Queen.