Bohemian Rhapsody - This Movie Will, This Movie Will Rock You (You Understand We Had To Go There, Right?)
Dir: Bryan Singer (and Dexter Fletcher)
Syarring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers, Aidan Gillen, Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech
There’s been a lot of pre-release talk about Bo Rap not being the warts and all Freddie Mercury biopic that some were holding out for. And it isn’t – although to its credit it does more than acknowledge Freddie’s homosexuality, and his contracting of AIDS, which ultimately, and tragically, took his life so young.
Instead of said warts, it is a deliberately old fashioned biopic. The kind that years before might well have starred Cliff Richard instead of Rami Malek. And all the better for it.
Plus, of course, it all leads to a glorious Live Aid climax – teased at the very beginning, but more of that later.
This is the kind of movie where one major event is heavily signposted, only to be followed by another – thus Freddie, sleeping under a piano no less, reaches up and starts playing the opening notes to Bohemian Rhapsody. We know where that’s going! The band are fighting and don’t want to “go disco” – then John Deacon starts playing the riff to Another One Bites The Dust. We know where that’s going!. Then Freddie falls in love with Mary – we really know where that’s going! Or not going, as the case may be.
It sounds heavy-handed, but it really isn’t. It’s just THAT kind of movie. And lays it out from the start, and takes great pleasure from being so old fashioned. As well you should watching it.
Malek gets his teeth into the role of Mercury – but it should be remembered, they are not his real teeth. There are times when what he is doing seems like a near perfect impersonation. But, as the film progresses, he becomes more and more of a fully three dimensional character to the point where, ironically, he starts to resemble Rami Malek on stage, more than he does Freddie Mercury. Still, he is never less than compulsive, and the rest of his group nicely capture the band dynamic – even if Brian May (who produced) is a little pious, and John Deacon (who no longer has anything to do with Queen) is made to look like a bit of a dick. Lucy Boynton (so brilliant in Sing Street) is superb as the long-suffering Mary, and Tom Hollander reminds you of why he should be declared a national treasure with the simplest of looks. And then Mike Myers shows up. Myers, who doesn’t seem to want to perform these days unless buried under layers of prosthetics, plays the head of EMI records who explains to the band that the song Bohemian Rhapsody will never be a hit because kids won’t want to play it in their cars while banging their heads along. It should be far too on the nose to work – but it fits the movie’s cheesy approach. (And if you need us to explain that reference – please stop reading now and go to another site. ANY other site!)
And then, after Freddie’s time in the emotional wilderness, there’s the Live Aid climax – more of that now.
It is simply remarkable. Yes, there’s the odd moment of uncanny valley when it comes to the recreation of the 100,000 audience who were there on July 13th 1985 (yes, we were) but the atmosphere, and the power of performance is captured in magnificent form. The move from the opening of Bo Rap into the stadium-smashing Radio GaGa is simply beautiful. At one point you think they’re going to do the whole set (Crazy Little Thing Called Love and a snatch of We Will Rock You are omitted) but 15 minutes out of 20 is still pretty damn fine – and they end on We Are The Champions – impossible to complain.
Singer shot these scenes in the first few days of production (talk about throwing your cast in at the deep end) but after his firing – and Dexter Fletcher stepping in – it’s difficult to know who to praise for this emphatic and brilliantly realised ending. So, we’re going with the editor John Ottman (who also scores the film.) We move from every angle of the Wembley stage, to deep close ups on Freddie and the band, to the guys up above in the rigging, to people coming together in the crowd, to people in a local pub completely into it, to Bob Geldof getting his “fookin’ money” at last, to Freddie’s family at home watching it on TV and finally accepting their son for the man he is. It is a triumphant piece of emotive filmmaking. And a gorgeous piece of nostalgia. And if it forgives any faults the film may have (and they are few) – well, then so it should.
Plus, Freddie gets to call someone "you treacherous piss-flap!"
Oh, and did we mention it's got a great soundtrack? Killer! Queen!
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