Bohemian Rhapsody is a brilliant, spectacularly entertaining film that unfortunately left me shaking my head as I left the theatre with an old friend. While he and I both loved this movie, neither could understand how so many critics around our country dismissed it. Regardless, the critiques by every one of them are profoundly misleading, so I urge all of you to reject it and go see this slam bang presentation as soon as possible.
Let me also correct those critics who felt that Rhapsody failed to concentrate on Freddy Mercury’s personal life and the role played by his band mates in formulating their music. Again, I can tell you without qualification that these reviewers are dead wrong, as there wasn’t a meaningful aspect of Mr. Mercury’s life that was not included in the film.
Importantly, let me emphasize that there wasn’t a weak moment in Rhapsody from beginning to end. You quickly learn that Mr. Mercury’s original name was Farrokh Bulsara, a young man who was born in Zanzibar. Working at an airport unloading planes in 1970, he stumbled across a small band led by Brian May, Rodger Taylor and John Deacon who’s lead singer had just quit. Immediately showing his talent, Queen was born and Mr. Bulsara soon changed his name to Freddie Mercury.
There is no question that Rami Malek gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Mr. Mercury. Both funny and confident, he immediately knows how to demonstrate his power while performing in front of an audience. History has shown that Mr. Mercury had a fantastic vocal range combined with captivating physical performances and Mr. Malek captures all of Mercury’s sexually provocative antics onstage that made Queen an immediate sensation.
Mercury’s bandmates, which included Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon, Gwilym Lee as Brian May and Ben Hardy in a memorable performance as the drummer Rodger Taylor combined to repeatedly demonstrate how their band pushed the outside of what the music industry considered acceptable at the time. There are a number of great scenes, none more hysterically rewarding than when the band taunts their record producer, played by in likeably arrogant fashion by Mike Meyers, who refused to release the song Bohemian Rhapsody because it lasted over 6 minutes. The band didn’t care when informed that no songs could be released anywhere that lasted over 3 minutes, and they never wavered in their dedication to the legendary musically artistic art form that they created.
As with so many rock and roll bands, Queen ended up dissolving when Mercury succumbed to the financial lure of going alone. None of them benefited after that moment, particularly Mercury. His long-standing relationship with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) had gradually dissolved as he came to grips with his sexuality. In addition, while his mother Jer Bulsara (Meneka Das) continued to remain close to him, his father Bomi (Ace Bhatti) couldn’t forgive him for rejecting the family name.
The fact that Mercury was gay was not dodged in any fashion in this film and you watch him regrettably seep into a lifestyle where booze, sex and drugs were destroying him. AIDs eventually followed, killing this talented man at the age of 45 in 1991.
However, let me close with a reference to one of the great scenes ever to appear in film. Queen was able to reunite to participate in the Live Aid concert in London in 1985. The radiance of all four bandmates will bring joy to your heart, and wait until you see them perform for 20 minutes before a massive audience in Wembley Stadium. The songs and performance exceeds the greatness shown by Lady Gaga in A Star is Born and it is not an exaggeration to say that you are likely to be overwhelmed.
Finally, stick around for the closing credits. Though the film lasts two hours and fifteen minutes, it seems more like an hour and a half. During the closing credits you will see a tape of the actual Freddie Mercury and Queen performing years earlier, and this was simply icing on the cinematic cake.