08th Nov2018

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Review – Second Opinion

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, Dickie Beau | Written by Anthony McCarten | Directed by Bryan Singer, Dexter Fletcher

bohemian-rhapsody-poster

Bohemian Rhapsody has had a long-troubled road to the cinematic big screen. A detailed plagued-production history of Sacha Baron Cohen headlining the project courting the likes of David Fincher and Tom Hooper for the directors’ chair, only to infamously leave said production and drag the creators and producers being Queen surviving members of Roger Taylor and Brian May, who wanted the film to be more so a biopic of Queen itself, not Freddie Mercury who infamously passes away mid-way through the film’s script which then focuses on the rest of the bands future. Something that was thankfully rectified with this production as in actual fact the film incorporates a bookend of Live Aid in a far more conventional manner, bringing Mercury to life and most undoubtedly at the centre stage of proceedings. The development of the character is the only character during the film that has not only efficient development but any such depth at all.

Mr Robot star Rami Malek headlining the picture as Freddie Mercury unequivocally steals the show with outrageously identical prowess and charisma. Successfully humanising a person who at times was far larger than life itself with human issues of the common person and identity questioning. Albeit skimmed over in only a handful of scenes, especially that of Mercury’s family heritage and his relationship with his father. In what should be one of the backbones of the film is side-lined for the otherwise unimpressive and undoubtedly censored moments of the band during, or Freddie in their heyday. Hickups would again surface with the film’s trailers not showcasing or failing to convey Mercury’s homosexuality or the mere mention of the subject of Aids. The theme of either subject is very watered down, to say the least.

Not so his homosexuality or bisexuality which is clearly an integral part of his story and a key element to production which is explored to some degree but it is that of the latter subject of the disease he, unfortunately, succumbed to, which is drastically squandered to a mere three minutes or so of screentime and played in one sequence that was created for the film and never occurred. Mercury was never defined by his death of Aids, but it was unquestionably a huge aspect of his later life, to only glance over something that was so devastating to the world is somewhat devastating to those living with the disease today. It does its best to contextually explain Mercury not wanting to be a martyr for the cause, but the only resolution is a sentence on the subject at the film close. A tone-deaf attribute that would most definitely want to be respectful and clear in Mercury and Queen’s legacy.

Controversy would strike again with the now infamous firing of Bryan Singer at the helm with 2/3 of the film completed due to aggressive and offensive onset behaviour. Leading actors Tom Hollander and Malik walking off set until something was done. 20th Century Fox ultimately retorted to firing Singer and retracting his production company contract and hiring Dexter Fletcher, soon to release his very own biopic of Elton John in Rocketman, to finish principal photography and oversee post-production. Aside from a slight framing difference and cinematography, it’s almost indistinguishable to tell either production apart. Multiple directors during production haven’t necessarily muddled the waters with Bohemian Rhapsody looking and sounding relatively solid, albeit undoubtedly cheap and on par with certain reconstructed documentary/biopics one can find on YouTube, at times throughout production.

With so much controversy surrounding the picture, one could hope that the film itself would suffice to be an entertaining romp at the least, celebrating such a colossal influential rock group but everything is unconvincing and hollow. From the humble beginnings, the break-up of Queen and their final performance at Live Aid with the latter two aspects fabricated into different scenarios completely and in such a dishonest manner to propel the cinematic venture rather than actuality and fact. This watered down biopic is the musical equivalent of a ‘Greatest Hits’ album. Fun, energetic on the surface but empty and hollow when one dives in deep. For the plastic Queen fans out their theyll come out in droves to see such a picture but those who hold the band and the man that was Freddie Mercury in a higher standard than a one-dimensional character will be left disappointed and quite frankly angry.

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