Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody’s a Rock Star

Bohemian Rhapsody
Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody’s a Rock Star
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Beyond desires for complete packages, it is sometimes the case where great movies can ride effortlessly on one or two critical things. In Bohemian Rhapsody, the epic musical biography of rock sensation Queen, that thing is Rami Malek.

Malek embraces the love of embodying the band’s iconic lead singer Freddie Mercury. His performance not only carries the entire motion picture – Malek does so with enough sweat and smiles you’d think he could go on forever. In contrast, the rest of the movie is bombastic. It’s also ludicrously entertaining.

The movie’s first impression feels similar to the criticism its titular song received when it first came out. Bohemian Rhapsody is stuffed with poetry, grandeur, and an ever-flowing fountain of showmanship. It’s difficult to understand all of it at once. But there’s obviously something compelling underneath the confusion.

The story is intermittent to the chronological events showing how Queen came up with many of the greatest hits. Freddie rises from nobody to rock superstar, all while balancing his love for many people. Meanwhile, he and his bandmates traverse their first 15 years of history jumping from song to song.

From record number one to 1985’s Live Aid concert, most moments go by as fast as they are introduced. Waiting for Killer Queen? Another One Bites the Dust? We Are the Champions? We Will Rock You? (And no, we haven’t forgotten the obvious, often foreshadowed one.)

Most of the movie is like a greatest hits film vacuumed by a documentary. The only source of flair comes from that same concoction’s adoration for Mercury’s personal wardrobe. The production value embodies the bohemian life with gusto.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Like one of the showstopper song’s final lines goes, “nothing really matters” beyond Malek’s performance as Mercury. He masters every quip, retort, song, creation and conquest. His embodiment of the singer is the best performance of any actor this year.

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The biggest question for fans of the man and the band is the film’s secretive approach to Mercury’s homosexuality. There were rumours from early audiences this critical detail of his character would be ignored. But these are wholly untrue: it plays a major part in the film’s plot. Especially in the end of the movie’s inappropriately grim second act.

Most of the disjointed moments in the screenplay and preachy lines of dialogue are easily forgivable. It’s occasionally okay to be cheesy if the epic scale and central actor are good enough. This is definitely one of those occasions.

Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t an outstanding film, and it’s a weak biographical structure. Mercury’s father warns early on “You’ll never amount to anything if you ignore who you are.” That’s the question Freddie spends the rest of the movie answering, and he does so with a fabulous, frantic finale with the Live Aid concert. What a scene!

Fans of Queen are going to have a blast watching this. Casual moviegoers will be hit or miss depending on their patience levels. Discerning viewers will find it hard to overlook the lack of tact in the editing room.

As for those willing to throw musical conformity to the wind, you’re in for a treat. Because this will, if only for Malek, definitely rock you.

Bohemian Rhapsody
2 1/2 out of 4 stars

PG, 2hr 13mins. Musical Biography Epic.
Directed by Bryan Singer.
Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Allen Leech, Joseph Mazzello, Tom Hollander and Mike Myers.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX.

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