It’s been a few years in the making, but Queen fans have now been rewarded for their patience with the glorious, moving, and life-affirming spectacle that is Bohemian Rhapsody. Hitting cinemas last Thursday (Nov. 1st) the film rocked the box office with $50 million in its opening weekend and continues to pull audiences of all ages. One friend of mine posted on Facebook a statement of pure pride and joy, as she overheard her 3 year-old singing along with the soundtrack, and I myself already have plans to fork out the money and see the film a second time!
While its true that you could make an entire movie about many phases of Queen’s journey to global domination; the making of A Night at the Opera alone could make for compelling drama (cue ‘Death on Two Legs’, Bohemian Rhapsody is more of a summarised history of the band, starting with their humble beginning as Smile and chronicling everything from their creation of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, to their first American tour, and ending with their legendary performance at Live Aid in 1985. Running alongside the story of the band is the more dramatic story of Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek); a dramatised story of identity and the search for love, while being swept up in the world of fame and fortune.
It should come as absolutely no surprise that this movie, a classic biopic (though some of the chronology is a little out of whack and a ‘tad’ fictionalised), is completely driven by its characters and therefore, is all about the performances. And the performances were incredible! While the plot and film structure itself is a little jagged with all the best bits of Queen thrown together, rather like a greatest hits album, I think everyone is prepared to overlook that simply because the performances were all so captivating. I fell in love with Freddie all over again with Malek’s performance; everything, right down to the vocal tones, delivery, and mannerisms were spot-on and I do believe that a universal applause is to be paid to Malek because it really was like Freddie was back with us. I laughed, I cried, and throughout this entire film all I wanted to do was reach through the screen, take hold of this beautiful man and tell him how much he has meant to myself and millions of others. Rami, (if you ever read this) thank you, thank you, thank you.
While Freddie is arguably the star of the show, Malek’s performance is not the only one that deserves praise. The entire central cast were flawless and people who have seen footage and interviews of the members of Queen will believe that these guys are the real thing. Gwilym Lee as Brian May is as rational and gently-spoken as the man himself, the spitting image too right down to the dimples when he smiles. Joe Mazzello as bass player John Deacon had all the mannerisms down pat; silent and sometimes snarky, he even sounded like him! If there’s a weak member of the group, sadly it would have to be Ben Hardy who played Roger Taylor. Despite totally nailing the attitude (for Roger was totally the ‘bad boy’ of the group) and delivering some of the best lines to rival some of Freddie’s most memorable quotes, Hardy’s performance is the one that doesn’t quite get there –don’t get me wrong, he’s still amazing, but everyone else reached levels of uncanny likeness to their models, whereas Hardy’s was just close imitation. Still, it’s an incredible feat.
It has been a long time, too long a time, since I was truly moved and made to feel raw feelings of love, sadness, joy, and marvel and Bohemian Rhapsody broke that drought. Wide-eyed and teary, but smiling the entire way through, my movie experience was one of pure wonderment; I was held in complete awe of the power of performance, the music, and of course, Freddie’s voice. More than this, the film is an engaging exploration of belonging and finding one’s place in a big and (sometimes violently) boisterous world, something that gains more and more relevance every day. It’s actually impossible for me to put into words just how incredible and how wondrous I found this movie to be, the closest I can come to is asking you to imagine a balloon inside you swelling with emotions until it’s filled to bursting and fills every inch of your being. That was it.
I absolutely adored, proudly and completely ADORED Bohemian Rhapsody. Do yourself a favour and go see it!