Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody
By: Lisa M. Hayes – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
So, let me be perfectly clear. I like Another One Bites the Dust as well as the next girl. However, I’m not a huge fan of Queen. I don’t dislike their work, but it’s not the soundtrack of my youth like it is for many people. I knew very little about Freddie Mercury or the band itself headed into the run-up for this movie. However, the previews got me and I was excited to see Bohemian Rhapsody.
Bohemian Rhapsody is the story of Freddie Mercury. However, it also tells the story of Mercury’s bandmates along for the ride with a genius musician who thrived on partying and taking musical risks. Watching the backstory as the music unfolded from nothing to masterpiece was entertaining.
The movie attempts to tell intimate stories about friendships, lovers, and marriage. Freddie Mercury’s sexuality was a huge part of the story of his life and plays a role in the movie. At a time in history when people didn’t know what to make of Mercury’s blatant and flamboyant bisexuality or homosexuality, Freddie Mercury was both groundbreaker and outcast at the same time. He didn’t fit any box the music industry or society had for him. He trailblazed his own path and took a lot of people in his life down that uncomfortable path with him – for better or for worse.
The challenge with making a movie that does a man like Freddie Mercury justice is he was bigger and more complex than something that fits on a screen. Rami Malek, playing Freddie was really good, but not great. At times it felt like he was playing more of a one-dimensional concept of Mercury. Often it felt like his attempts at catching Mercury’s genius turned him into a meme of Freddie Mercury feeling more gratuitous than genuine. I’m not sure who could have done it better than Remi Malek, but it wasn’t quite sharp enough. If I was a lifelong Mercury super-fan, I can imagine I might not have enjoyed the performance.
I’m also not certain this movie did a good enough job painting a picture of what it was like to be a gay man in the public eye in the 70’s and 80’s, especially at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. I feel like Mercury, in many ways, was the first public figure whose life and death helped us understand AIDS in a different way than we had before. Mercury’s later days were his happiest and most impactful in many ways. The movie cuts them out in favor of telling the story of a fragile, wild-child, party driven, flamboyant musician.
That said, at the end of it all, I learned a lot about Mercury and Queen I didn’t know. I did enjoy this movie. I enjoyed the music. I think it’s a couple hours well spent and worth the price of the ticket. I felt better walking out than I did walking in – which makes sense because Freddie Mercury wasn’t a tragic figure whose death came as a shock. He was an inspiration for millions who made his music the soundtrack of their lives for decades.
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