Queen are arguable one of the biggest and best loved bands in the world. Lead by front man Freddie Mercury, they created countless classics. Now, telling the story of Freddie and his balancing act between the stage and his personal life, Bohemian Rhapsody takes us on the journey of Queen from their inception to their iconic 1985 Live Aid performance. Despite certain historical discrepancies being taken, and a definite glorification of the characters, this toe-tapping musical drama will absolutely Rock You!
Right off the bat it has to be said that Rami Malek deserves serious Oscar consideration for his role as Freddie Mercury. It is unbelievable how, with the help of some false teeth, Malek has utterly transformed himself into the raging rock star that was Queen’s front man. His iconic status means that any slip and the audience would immediately notice, so his performance being so totally convincing was no easy feat. Equally, however, the whole band were fantastically well cast. They all look very similar to the real members, and it certainly seems as though their mannerisms are well executed.
Thankfully, the film does not tip-toe around Freddie’s sexuality. He is widely known for trying to keep his personal life private for much of his career, denying his homosexuality for many years. The film was careful to be respectful of this aspect of his life, and for the most part it is successful in portraying the emotion and heartbreak of having to hide who you really are for so long.
The script and story are perhaps what let the film slightly down. I’m confident that there are certain historical discrepancies taken with the narrative, and there are a couple of instances where the story loses the audience in a little too much hero worship of the band and their success. At times, the jokes feel far too knowing. One particular downside is Mike Myers as Queens first manager, who claims that nobody will ever head bang to Bohemian Rhapsody (the irony being that Myers did the very same in 1992’s Wayne’s World). Jokes like this felt very out of place and ruined the realism of the film. That being said, it was quite funny how often Roger Taylor used the word “B*llocks”, and equally Freddie has several killer Diva lines; “I’m Freddie F*CKING Mercury” and calling someone a “treacherous p*ss flap” were particular highlights.
The film follows Queen on their journey to Live Aid, so it’s no spoiler to say that the film ends with that sequence. It must be said that any issues there may be with the film are utterly swept under the carpet at this point, as the Live Aid scenes are absolutely breathtaking. The raw power and emotional atmosphere is almost palpable during this epic finale, and it’s no surprise that once again I was moved to tears (and quite a lot of them) by the shear intensity and love the crowd share with Queen’s numerous anthems.
The final song at Live Aid, ‘We Are The Champions’ was a breathtaking performance with truly emotional undertones. Freddie’s line “We’ll keep on fighting ‘till the end” has a heartbreaking prominence that the film certainly seems to play on. As the credits roll with “Don’t Stop Me Now”, you can’t help but feel a certain amount of pride for a true British legend, and feel the tragedy of his untimely demise. While the film isn’t perfect, it too is a bright statement of sexuality and rock, and ultimately there can be no better tribute to the Rock God that was Freddie Mercury.