Friday, November 30, 2018

Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

I'm still in the sway of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, the generous and loving bio-pic of the band Queen and Freddie Mercury, its lead singer.

Rami Malek had the great responsibility of performing as the larger-than-life Freddie Mercury, and he succeeds in every way. Malek's mannerisms, his accent, and his singing (lip-syncing) seemed spot-on, but what elevated the movie was his emotion, which shimmered through the screen. When he telephones his wife Mary (Lucy Boynton), and asks her to have a drink over the phone, my heart ached seeing the hope in his eyes. When he finally figures out the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody ("I don't want to die; I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all"), the surprise and wonder on his face says everything about creativity.

The rest of the band is ably portrayed: lead guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), bassist John Deacon (Joe Mazzello). They each had moments of humor and drama. The movie reinforces what I've learned about big rock bands: it's a unique bond and brotherhood; it's a repetitive, burn-out inducing job, with confrontations and infighting heightened by the glare of adulation and the pressure of giving people what they want.

Much has been made about the rocky production (two directors, changes to the lead actor, multiple scripts). Much has also been made of the film's liberal use of dramatic license. I chose not to let these detract from my enjoyment. It probably helped that I wasn't well-versed on the band's real history. A movie like this is a myth-maker. It's a rock-and-roll myth with Queen and Freddie Mercury. For some this will be all they know about Queen, and their music. For others the movie will increase their curiosity to learn more about this great band.

The end result for me is a movie that left me spellbound, and deeply satisfied. Being reintroduced to all their great songs was invigorating. I loved it so much I saw it again the following weekend with my daughter. I'm grateful to her for making us see it!