A larger-than-life tale of the rock legends’ upcomings with sensory-overloading musical sets and crowning performance by Malek as Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody is a backstory-light and non-operatized biopic – but electrifying. 6/10.
Plot Synopsis: Bohemian Rhapsody is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury. Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound. They reach unparalleled success, but in an unexpected turn Freddie, surrounded by darker influences, shuns Queen in pursuit of his solo career. Having suffered greatly without the collaboration of Queen, Freddie manages to reunite with his bandmates just in time for Live Aid. While bravely facing a recent AIDS diagnosis, Freddie leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music. Queen cements a legacy that continues to inspire outsiders, dreamers and music lovers to this day
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Official CLC Review
Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon, & Roger Taylor: Four visionary musicians came together in the psychadelically-hued ’70’s to make boundary-pushing, genre-defining music and nothing was the same. Fast forward ~50 years and there;s an accompanying biopic critics are just as wrong about as they were about Queen’s music originally. An epic, larger-than-life tale of the rock legends’ upcomings with sensory-overload musical sets and an iconic performance by Malek as Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody delivers a backstory-light but electrifying musical biopic.
Central to its success is its sublime turn by Rami Malek – one of the performances of the year going beyond sheer physical resemblance and acting to even getting the minute details of his body language, flamboyancy, and stage movements absolutely spot-on. Beyond that, the film succeeds as a character study of Mercury as well, a surprise I was not expecting dissecting the drug of fame, duality of race expectations and representation (as an Indian I especially appreciated this), snakes in the grass, and the intricacy (and trickiness) of sexuality. The direction is smooth and treatment of the music and its genre-blending ideology spot-on, unsurprising with the producing and script input helmed by the real Brian May and Rodger Taylor on the project getting the spirit of the band right and flatteringly.
It was an absolute treat to hear gems like the club-cool ‘Another One Bites The Dust’, epic sports anthem ‘We Will Rock You’, groundbreaking and operatic titular ‘Bohemian Rhapsody, or buoyant/speeding ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ on the big screen with strong musical numbers and performance optics in surround-sound, and that alone carries the film into passable territory for any remote fans of the band or genre. There were flaws, including being extremely light on the band’s coming together with what feels like a glossed over brushing off of what, as any musician knows, is the hardest and most important (and transformative) time in any band/act’s career. They also could’ve spent much more time on Mercury’s backstory and heritage, and sometimes focused more on the concert and showmanship than actual scripting/storytelling.
Overall, although Bohemian Rhapsody is backstory-light and fails to capitalize on several potentially-rich arcs – as that absolutely electrifying final set at Live Aid for billions showcased – B.R. is a larger-than-life tale of the rock legends’ upcomings with sensory-overload musical sets and an iconic performance by Malek as Freddie Mercury for an undoubtedly-electrifying Queen experience and 80’s-rock nostalgia overdrive that relives some of the hits that changed music.
Official CLC Score: 6/10