Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) - Review
by Bryan Mero
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) is a biopic of the band 'Queen' and focus' mostly on the band's lead singer Freddy Mercury (Rami Malek). This is a loose telling of the story from when Freddy worked at Heathrow Airport to joining the band Smile and creating 'Queen.' It follows the band as the move from selling out local clubs and pubs to selling their van to record their first album. Their album is picked up by a record producer and they are off to tour the world but success has a lot of challenges along the way. Freddy is an amazing performer but has trouble being accepted and keeping true friends and family around him. This leads him to using drugs and search for several homosexual relationships...even though he is engaged to marry Mary Austin. This leads to a break up of the band but they come back together in time to play at Live Aid at Wimbley Stadium. It is said to be the greatest live performance of any band to date. This performance alone on film is worth the price of admission...this is also the only time you'll hear the exact recording from LIVE AID itself behing released for the film.
Where to begin with this movie? If you do just a little bit of research you'll find out that the writers played around with the timeline for Queen and Freddy Mercury just enough to tell a good story. If you can get beyond that you'll find a story of rejection, self assertion, greed, friendship, triumph and betrayal. I loved seeing the behind the scenes of how some of the band's most famous songs were produced...especially Bohemian Rhapsody. Some may think that Freddy Mercury was the brain child behind all the hits for Queen...that is not the case...the entire band contributed to hits from 'We Will Rock You' to 'Another One Bites the Dust.' This lead to friction within the band until they decided any songs they created was by Queen and all credit and royalties would be split 4 ways.
Speaking of the other band members. A shout out to Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Queen lead guitarist, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, Queen drummer and Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon, Queen bass guitarist. As actors they bring the realism of bandmates under the shadow of such a bigger than life character like Freddy Mercury. They are the ones who kept Freddy grounded and feel like part of the family. They also showed their willingness to go beyond the barriers of the current music trend and experiment with music never tried before for rock music. Their performances were believable and heartfelt.
One of the biggest criticisms of the movie is the lack of story behind Freddy's gay tendencies and his drug usage seen on screen. Those critics need to realize that there is just so much that can be shown on film before it starts to turn away audiences. Freddy's tendencies towards men is very apparent in the film. Their are two scenes where Freddy kisses another man...one where he rejects it and another where he accepts it. Neither scene was over the top but can still make the audience a bit squeamish seeing the interaction on screen. The other criticism was about his drug use. They showed a very high usage of alcohol, pills and some implied use of cocaine but never anything as strong as herion. Freddy contracted HIV and it is still unknown whether it was from using dirty needles in drug use or unprotected sex. Either way it was a death sentence for Freddy at the time when HIV and AIDS was affecting the gay community with experimental treatments and no cure.
Beyond Freddy's sexual tendencies and drug use, this movie showed that no matter what your sexual preferance, you can still be a good or bad person by your own choice. Sexual preference shouldn't define you...how you treat others should. This movie shows the triumph of creating something amazing and the defeat of betrayal. Life is a roller coaster and if you think being part of one of the most famous bands in the world would be sunshine and roses, you'd be sorely mistaken. In the end all we should do is what was stressed toward the end of the movie and Freddy's father's maxim, "Good thoughts, good words, good deeds."
Overall I recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of Queen and the music from the 70's and 80's. As in the review, there is plenty of alcohol and drug usage along with many sexual situations so parents be warned.