Bohemian Rhapsody (12a)
Running time: 134min
I don’t even know where to begin. I went in with only one wish, one expectation; that Joseph Mazzello’s British accent didn’t suck. I’ll save my gushing about Joe until later, but it’s safe to say that it was a winner and I wanted to watch it all over again the second it finished.
The media has been very unkind about this film. I always try and avoid reviews, but its hard when the puns lay it out with such brutality. One review makes sure you know their star rating regardless of whether you click or not.
The biggest criticism seems to be that the film ‘glosses over the seedier parts of Freddie’s life’. Certainly, from my perspective, the film not only addresses all parts of Mercury’s life, but it does it with class, respect and without sugar coating. For those who are criticising this film for what it misses out, I’ll remind you that I’ve yet to see a film about MLK that touches on his extramarital affairs.
From the opening bars to the final drum clash; it’s an epic biopic that the world has needed. It pulls no punches in setting up Freddie’s life as an outsider trying to shine.
Rami Malek has always been incredible; from his stint in the Night at the Museum films, to his staring role in Mr Robot he has always commanded your attention. Bohemian Rhapsody is no exception; his exotic charm and defiant nature will keep you hooked from start to finish. This wasn’t just an exercise in impersonation; Malek is deserving of an Oscar (read: ALL THE AWARDS) for his embodiment of the lead singer of Queen.
Both Ben Hardy and Gwilym Lee bring authenticity to their roles of original and current band members Roger Taylor and Brian May respectively. Each bringing warmth, Charisma and humour to the film. They work so well together, you’ll be wanting them to be announcing their own tour once the credits roll.
I can’t move on without talking a little bit more about the wonderful Joseph Mazzello. For those of you seeing that smile and wondering where you’ve seen it before; he is one Tim Murphy from Jurassic Park. It just so happens that he is also my first ever celebrity crush. I would watch anything, and everything, he was in. It was great; he was in loads of things. Then he disappeared like many a child actor does. Can’t blame them; they want what everyone has, an education. He’d been off my radar for many years now.
However, here he is, all grown up and just like that; the crush is back. His acting, comic timing and charm are all spot on and pitch perfect for the role of John Deacon; the final member to join the band. The highlight of Mazzello’s performance being a scene in which his character dissolves the volatile tension between Freddie and Roger with a performance of John’s newly written song, Another One Bites the Dust. It is utterly brilliant; there’s comedy in their, but it also demonstrates John’s (and by extension, Joe’s) talent within the band. I know I’m bias, but he’s my favourite part of the film and I enjoyed every facial expression and bassist close up Bohemian Rhapsody could offer. Side bar; I want to listen to him talk in a British accent forever. I’m not one to tell you if it’s ‘good’. I thought Michael C Hall’s was alright in his Brit Thriller Safe, to then read a load of reviews calling it ‘shite’. I couldn’t tell you where in England John is from, but what I will say is; it was consistent, I bought it and it made me smile.
We can’t have a good biopic or a brilliant film without an antagonist. Allen Leech plays Paul Prenter; Freddie’s personal manager and occasional lover. He made my skin crawl, my heart ache and at times, I wanted to reach in and get Freddie out of harms way.
While I don’t know how much of the narrative relating to Pretner is true, it makes for an amazing story arch with the band and Freddie himself. We must expect some artistic licence with this medium of expression.
Other antagonists come in the form of Mike Myers. And what a joy it is to see him play Ray Foster, an EMI executive, hell bent on changing the released single on A Night at the Opera. Just wait for the Wayne’s World nod; it’s a nod and wink Easter egg that everyone needs.
That has to be my tears. Oh I cried, and I ugly cried. From the inevitable signs of Freddie’s diagnosis, to the epically recreated LiveAid concert; I sobbed, I gasped, and I felt for Freddie Mercury. What an amazing man, who reached rock bottom, pulled himself back up only to be taken from the world.
There’s something about this film that hits an emotion raw spot. I’m glad we didn’t see his declining health and I was happy with the heavy suggestions of the life he delved into without plastering his personal life onto the screen. There’s something to be said about the changing attitude of society and it breaks my heart to think; if only society was so accepting of homosexuality, perhaps those like Freddie and Kenny Everett, who makes a brief appearance in the film, wouldn’t have felt the need to have their relationships in secret.
I also want to praise the film for having that upbeat ending without censoring Freddie’s condition. It’s a testament to British rock, to the men who have brought joy to anyone who has stood in a club come closing and swayed to the quintessential last song Don’t Stop Me Now. It’s a joy to watch, despite what the critics say, and I will be very disappointed if this film passes by without any award nominations.