Bohemian Rhapsody

What’s it about?
A chronicle of one of the most influential rock-pop bands of the 20th century, Queen and its flamboyant lead singer Freddie Mercury. Focusing more on Freddie, this biopic ranges from the group forming from the remnants of SMILE and provides glimpses of the years leading up to Queen’s legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert.

What did we think?
Anthony Sherratt says: Imagine flicking through a thick, detailed book about the history of Queen and Freddie Mercury. Not reading: just flicking through and reading a page or so at random here and there. And then flicking backwards occasionally so you’re reading out of order. That’s kind of what you get with Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s still fascinating but feels somewhat superficial and you can’t help but feel it should have been more. The movie takes liberties with chronology both musically and factually which will annoy a diehard Queen fan, but it has to be said it’s still a satisfying movie emotionally. The performances are fantastic, the music is electrifying and the heart is there even if finer details aren’t. The exploration of the paradox that was Freddie – a flamboyant performer who off-stage was shy and never identified as cool – is going to be enough for most as the familiar songs paper over a lot of the cracks. The adherence to a formulaic biopic is irritating – and almost UnFreddie like – but I enjoyed it despite the failings.  

My biggest criticism was that the ending isn’t right. Frustratingly, a simple info card covering the six years between where the film ended and the info card they did display, would have addressed the issues. If you’re a Queen fan you might be disappointed with points here and there but not the overall picture.  4/5

Amy Curran says: This long-awaited film didn’t quite rock me. The music is great, of course – it’s the script that’s the problem. It’s all obvious foreshadowing, simplified characters and cinematic licence. While it dutifully checks off its mandatory rock movie moments, it does so in a very timid, overly respectful way. Any hint of debauchery is politely alluded to rather than explicitly depicted, and the film suffers for it. That said, Malek is excellent, his bandmates are well cast (Gwilym Lee’s Brian May is particularly spot on) and the incredibly faithful re-creation of the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley stadium is truly spectacular. Despite its flaws, it’s worth seeing. 3/5

Andrew Danyals says: Queen had not one, not two but three albums of greatest hits. Trying to choose a small list of favourite songs would be like trying to fit twenty years of fascinating and often bizarre stories into a single film. It’s inevitable that this biopic glosses over so many things. In fact there are so many things they just leave out altogether (where is the legendary Bowie studio meeting? Or Michael Jackson and his llama? The dwarves were alluded to but not shown!). Despite this, BoRap is a great movie. Not because of anything technical – there it sometimes fails – but because it taps into your emotions. You lose yourself in Rami Malek’s incredible portrayal of Freddie and you lose yourself in the music. And that’s all that really matters. Love Queen? See the movie. 4.6/5




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