Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the hit rock band Queen, could be called many things, but “by the book” or “safe” are neither of them. However, the recent feature about his life and Queen’s rise to fame is definitely risk-free.
Bohemian Rhapsody’s plot focuses on Freddie Mercury’s life right before he met the other band members, how they rose to fame together, how fame affected Mercury, and how he dealt with the struggles of fame, sexual identity, and illness. The film starts with Mercury as Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek), an immigrant from Zanzibar working at the airport and writing songs on the side. At a club where Smile (later renamed Queen) was playing, Bulsara spontaneously auditions in front of the band members to become their new lead singer. Bulsara wows the members and together they steadily make their way to ultimate fame. But as they get there, Bulsara (now Freddie Mercury) gets sucked into the costs of fame and has to figure out who he really is before he completely self-destructs.
If you think this plot is super innovative, well, think again.
It is your basic “rise to fame and then stumbling at the price that comes with it” kind of tale that we have all seen many many times. The main difference here is that it is about Freddie Mercury, one of the most interesting characters in the music industry, even if the film is too by the book to truly show that.
The plot is able to satisfy Queen fans with several performance sequences, as well as a particularly outstanding scene of the recording of the megahit Bohemian Rhapsody, with all the really high notes and the operatic sections. These sequences are where the film works best. However, what the film lacks is the delving into the life of Freddie Mercury with an out of the box, non-cliché outlook, and a focus on the lines as well as the screenplay.
What saves this film, other than the nostalgia for our favourite tracks, is the acting; Rami Malek masters Freddie Mercury’s mannerisms perfectly and is able to capture his presence on stage and off it. Despite the cliché riddled feature, Malek conveys Freddie Mercury as the outstanding, unique character he was. The supporting cast was also able to leave their distinct mark, especially Ben Hardy playing drummer Roger Taylor who stood out with a strong performance.
Bohemian Rhapsody is very entertaining with amazing performances and the musical numbers we all know and love but, if you were expecting excitement and awe, you will be disappointed.