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  • 3.5 out of 5

Bohemian Rhapsody - Duller than Mercury


There is a great scene in Bohemian Rhapsody where Queen try to explain to "the man" in EMI Records that their music is experimental, not formulaic. The irony of this statement has been lost on director Bryan Singer. Now, don't get me wrong, I liked the film, hence the rating. However, it was a "tab A goes into slot B" story-telling approach. We get three Acts and I'm surprised someone didn't turn to the camera in Act II and say "this is Freddie's dark, drug-fueled stage but don't worry Act III will bring redemption".

I wanted more. I felt the film only hinted at the complexity of the character, his personal relationships and his special relationship with the audience which he felt brought him more than any other. Ultimately, the vista is too wide and 134 minutes is just not enough.

The film’s obvious piece de resistance is Rami Malek’s transcendent performance as Freddie Mercury. Malek’s was far from an easy task. Mercury’s public persona was one of a larger-than-life, boisterous voice, literally and figuratively. Yet he was known to have an introverted, melancholic personality in private, even when throwing lavish parties as attempts to find some form of an intimate connection with his surroundings. To successfully deliver a performance marked by such contrasts without coming across as gimmicky requires an agility that’s very tricky to accomplish, and Malek passes that test with flying colours.

Having said that, the approach was correct. Ending the film with the triumphal Live Aid performance was genius. The film recreates almost the entire 20-minute performance, with the camera capturing the moment’s grandeur via sweeping shots of the massive audience as well as intimate details of the performance in a way the video set up in 1985 could not.Thanks to this finale and Malek’s overall dedication to the part, Bohemian Rhapsody may provide some inspiration and satisfaction for Queen fans. For everyone else, Bohemian Rhapsody’s formulaic approach may prove far duller than Mercury ever was.


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