I’ll be honest, it took me forever to write this review because I kept getting distracted listening to my favorite Queen songs. Under Pressure, Hammer to Fall, Killer Queen, Radio Gaga, Flash and the title of this wonderful film, Bohemian Rhapsody, the list goes on. After seeing the film, I came home and turned up Queen’s music for my boys for days. My 4 year probably knows the lyrics to Radio Gaga now better than Baby Shark. You’re welcome, world.
But that’s what this film does to you. You see these rock legends at work and loving it. They’re so passionate, talented and filled with music, that you can’t help but be infected. I especially loved scenes depicting the band getting “experimental.” After seeing how far this band of misfits came, their story butting heads with the music industry only to come out on top is inspiring. And while the end of the film is a bit more sobering with Mercury sharing his diagnosis with his band members, it does not dwell or stew in such sadness. Instead, the film is a celebration of Queen and leaves the audience feeling like we’ve just been to an amazing rock concert.
That effect comes easily when the last act of the film is a reproduction of Queen’s performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert. Since seeing the film, I’ve watched multiple videos of Queen’s actual performance and it is uncanny how the film replicates the concert. From the banners in the crowd, every movement the band members make, to the Pepsi cups on the piano, the scene is spot on. Since I was weeks away from being born at the time of that concert, seeing it recreated on the big screen is a really cool way to connect with a piece of rock and roll history.
While the film features all the members of Queen, with Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon and Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, the film focuses on Freddie Mercury, portrayed by Rami Malek. We see Mercury’s home life as a young man before the band is formed and his relationship with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton). Later, in the midst of fame and fortune, we are shown a bit of Mercury’s promiscuous life in a montage that leads to his tragic diagnosis. But the film, like Freddie, doesn’t dwell on it and won’t let us feel sad for him, instead we are directed to the Live Aid concert and rock out until the end.
Malek’s Oscar nominated performance as Freddie Mercury is amazing. With every movement and gesture he becomes Mercury. He rocks every flamboyant costume with Freddie’s grandiose and flare and makes it all look naturally effortless. Looking back at old Queen videos, it is uncanny how Malek has fused into this role so perfectly. The best way to tell Malek and Mercury apart is the teeth. The teeth that were given to Malek’s are just too straight, but that’s no fault of his.
Along with Malek’s nomination for best actor, Bohemian Rhapsody has earned a total of five Oscar nominations. They include sound mixing, sound editing, film editing and Best Picture. I’m no expert on sound production, but I’ve read that the singing for Mercury’s part is a mix of Malek’s singing, Canadian singer Mark Martel and Mercury himself. Everything sounds spot on to me.
I remember back when it was first announced that there would be a “Freddie Mercury biopic” I honestly dreaded it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Queen and Mercury, but I was so afraid that a film about him would end so sadly and how much he would hate that. But Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t let that happen and I was so relieved and happy. I think that between the amazing performances, spot-on musical moments, snappy-smart editing and ending on a high note, this wonderful film simply rocked its way into the Best Picture spotlight.
“Who even is Galileo?”