Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Telling the tale of a beloved rock and roll enigma, especially one so notoriously private, is a daunting task, but Bohemian Rhapsody tackles Freddie Mercury’s legendary story with flourish and fervor. Admittedly, the film adopts a convenient plot line ripe with meet-cutes and oversimplifications of Mercury’s complex relationship with his family and background. It struggles the most in addressing the often-discussed queerness of Mercury’s life, at times teetering toward bi-erasure and a less-than-delicate portrayal of AIDS. While these issues may sound alarms with diehard Queen fans and the LGBTQ community, they fortunately do little to detract from the film’s grand instances of homage, which boast meticulous visuals and uncanny performances. Rami Malek shines as the shy yet vivacious Queen frontman and is spellbindingly convincing during both Mercury’s loneliest hours and explosive moments on some of the world’s biggest stages. The rest of the casting deserves a grand tip of the hat as well, with Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, and Gwilyn Lee playing textbook versions of Queen’s Roger Taylor, John Deacon, and Brian May as the band navigates through humble bar-scene beginnings, a meteoric rise to superstardom, and finally, their exalted Live Aid performance. Bohemian Rhapsody, for all its narrative flaws, is an earnest tribute to the iconic rock and roll band, and remains a spectacle of sight and sound for music, Mercury, and movie fans alike.