REVIEW: After 10 years in the making, the movie Bohemian Rhapsody is a fitting tribute to Freddy Mercury
PUBLISHED: 09:36 27 November 2018
Ten years in the making, this troubled production, which tells the story of the legendary British rock band Queen and its enigmatic lead singer Freddie Mercury, finally makes it to the big screen.
Staring Rami Malek (star of the successful Amazon Prime show Mr Robot) in the role of Mercury, the film charts the band’s early years, their rise to fame and later squabbles, as well as touching on Mercury’s personal and health issues.
Sacha Baron Cohen was originally cast in the role Mercury, but left the project citing creative differences with the surviving members of Queen, who are the film’s producers and driving force.
Malek was eventually cast as his replacement, but the film was thrown into further turmoil when director Brian Singer was sacked, allegedly for “unreliable on-set behaviour“, deep into filming.
British director Dexter Fletcher was brought in to complete the film, although Singer retained the film’s sole directing credit.
Despite such upheaval behind the scenes, the final film shows few signs of this turmoil and is remarkably consistent throughout.
Malek is a revelation in the lead role. Having studied Mercury meticulously, he expertly mimics the flamboyant performers every tic.
The rest of the band are also well cast with Gwillem Lee and Ben Hardy perfectly inhabiting the roles of Brian May and Roger Taylor, while Lucy Boynton is excellent as Freddie’s long time friend and former fiancé Mary Austin.
The film itself is a functional, but somewhat “by the numbers” biopic, methodically ticking off the writing process of each of the band’s biggest hits, without ever delving much deeper.
The film manages to highlight the band’s fantastic back catalogue of songs, but rarely touches on the darker and arguably more interesting side of their enigmatic lead singer.
The warts and all version of the film that Baron Cohen was rumoured to be keen on, was clearly not what the remaining band members wanted as their friend’s epitaph.
Having said that, the decision to end the film with the band’s 1985 Band Aid performance at Wembley stadium was a very good one, as it brings proceedings to a close on a triumphant note, rather than focusing on Mercury’s sad final years and his battle with the AIDS virus.
Bohemian Rhapsody is generic but undeniably crowd pleasing biopic of one Britain’s most celebrated rock bands and a fitting legacy to the talents of the late Freddie Mercury.