Everyone knows Queen, but does everyone Freddie Mercury?
That’s the question Bohemian Rhapsody aims to answer, following the rise to fame of Queen on a painfully chronological timeline – leaving little room for true emotion.
The one non-linear aspect is the warm up for Live Aid where we see Freddie Mercury warming up before going on stage to a packed Wembley stadium. It’s the peak performance, the iconic outfit is in full flow, this is Queen, right? Basically, yes.
Live Aid cuts out and we’re back to London years before as a young Freddie, played by Rami Malek, is handling luggage at Heathrow, a far cry from what’s to come as he finds himself nudged and abused for his race, sexual curiosity and teeth.
Against it all he knows he’s a star. He throws himself into a career with a band without a lead and seems to hit the ground running, finding only snags with the people around him: fake friends and tyrannical music exec played by Mike Myers in a borderline cameo appearance.
Freddie’s battle with his aids diagnosis and sexual and racial identity is glazed over in favour of the ‘standard musical film’ route: album, tour, drugs, sex and annoying paparazzi.
And it’s tediously chronological at times. This may have been to show the sheer monotony of being in a band on a cycle of making music and touring music, so you too feel the lulls.
It also seemed pretty unrealistic. I refuse to believe Queen had so few fights, I just can’t believe that in all the alcohol-fuelled orgies between recording sessions there wasn’t a single tiff – there’s no way. It seemed too easy to make it, too easy to get out of contract with labels and to roll through without a hitch until their eventual break up (and even that was only just brutal).
It’s been called a glorified Wikipedia article and I agree. Use your artistic freedom, throw in some emotion and hit us where it hurts. Freddie Mercury is an icon and Queen are timeless, so I wanted to love the film. I was open to be knocked on my arse at their struggles with all they went through – it shouldn’t have been a final title screen.
Main annoyance: Having to get used to those teeth and the full Live Aid set dragged.
Audience rating: Good people, my favourite so far.
Top tip: Don’t do a A Star is Born/Bohemian Rhapsody double bill.