Bohemian Rhapsody is no bed of roses

November 6, 2018

Disclaimer: Bohemian Rhapsody does contain numerous historical inaccuracies, but in truth factual inaccuracies are always acceptable in a cinematic depiction of “true” events. 


This review is of THE FILM, not of failure to adhere to what happened in real life. Sometimes, it is just fantasy.

This was better than it should have been, yet it’s still not as good as it could have been. 




Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" starring Rami Malek as late Queen frantman Freddie Mercury made $50 million during its opening weekend in the U.S. 



Bohemian Rhapsody chronicles the story of Queen – truly one of the world’s most beloved bands ever - on the silver screen. But it’s certainly no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise. 


It’s a mixed bag that ultimately succeeds in its mission – a dramatic, cinematic translation of the uplifting nature of Queen’s music. 


It’s an underdog story, a love story, and an ode to creativity – though never at the same time. If this sounds like a mess, it’s because the movie is kind of a mess. Bohemian Rhapsody is ultimately “good.” It’s just unfocused and rushed, especially at the start, but I’ll get to that later.


The film’s emotional core is front man Freddie Mercury’s relationship with his long-time girlfriend Mary Austin (played by a stunningly tender Lucy Boynton), for whom he wrote “Love of My Life” and, as is portrayed in the film, the true love of his life. 


It’s a relationship that we know little about in real life, so some fictionalization is welcome and, at times, necessary. 

The story of a man who truly loves a woman but is unable to do so because of his encroaching lifestyle is heartbreaking and paints Mercury as a tortured individual, torn in three ways by the disparate lusts of his heart, body, and mind. 


Rami Malek delivers a stellar performance as Mercury (except for his absurd overuse of the word “darling”) as does the rest of the cast, especially Gwilym Lee as guitarist Brian May - possibly the most accurate portrayal of a real-life person in any biopic, ever.


 But someone’s got to be the loser in the end.Whoever edited the first third of this film needs to be horse-whipped. The first third of this film is the cinematic equivalent of a middle school power-point presentation (complete with power-point transition graphics!?!?). Somehow the first five years of Queen’s career are squeezed into approximately 15 minutes. 


Scenes portraying Freddie’s life before Queen last between three and ten seconds, Freddie’s first night with the band is a comically instant success (complete with improvised bottomless mic stand), his talent seems boundlessly superhuman and “Amadeus”-esque, and in no time, badda bing! 


They’re touring America in front of throngs of adoring fans. What?? Once the film slows down (when the band actually records “Bohemian Rhapsody”) that the film becomes digestible, and eventually, genuinely entertaining. 


Aside from one scene involving a press conference (which is laughably bad like something out of Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” movie), the film gets better from there.


  Bohemian Rhapsody injects a healthy amount of cinematic emotion and drama into a story that, for the most part, did not need to be told (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, on the other hand…that would probably be an Oscar-worthy film).


  This film does great justice to the spirit of Queen’s music: it’s big, it’s bombastic, it’s unapologetically emotional, and it’s probably a little too squeaky clean for more discerning tastes.


But it’s another sturdy pillar in the temple of Freddie Mercury and Queen’s legacy. The show must go on. 5/5

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