Movie Review | Bohemian Rhapsody
Movie summary: The story of the legendary rock music band Queen and its lead singer Freddie Mercury, leading up to their famous performance at Live Aid (1985). (IMDb)
I think Bohemian Rhapsody is one of those films that has succeeded thanks to the music rather than it delivering a satisfying narrative. In other words, this isn't anywhere close to the quality of A Star Is Born, instead relying on the popularity of Queen's music to work.
And to a large extent, it does. Numerous musical sequences are great fun to watch, and the full recreation of Queen's performance at Live Aid is incredible to see. Unfortunately, the problem lies with everything in-between, with nothing really being given too much close attention.
In trying to cover such a long period of time, it does mean that quite a lot is skipped over or truncated to stop the film becoming monstrously long. Unfortunately, this does mean that characters appear and disappear, with relationships starting and ending without any real warning.
This does help keep the attention on the actors playing the roles of Queen's various members, because they're the only real constants from start to end - which I suppose is fitting. The only other character to get any real depth to them is Lucy Boynton's Mary Austin, Freddie's wife.
Rami Malek gets the lion's share of the screen-time as Freddie Mercury and he is really good in the role, but it feels like even his performance is reliant on real-life knowledge of Mercury's life. I'm not sure what anyone coming into this movie without that knowledge would make of it.
That is essentially Bohemian Rhapsody's problem as a whole: while I think most people will be able to enjoy it to some extent regardless, it really does feel like you need to know at least something about Freddie Mercury and Queen to enjoy it fully.
Unfortunately, it does also make it quite difficult to explain just how the movie glosses over things, or leaves subplots dangling, because there are so many examples that you could effectively regurgitate the events of the film by the time you've covered what is left unexplored.
Honestly, going to Wikipedia and reading the Freddie Mercury or Queen pages while listening to the band's greatest hits album would provide a more historically-accurate and in-depth look at what the movie is trying to cover.
Bohemian Rhapsody is simply trying to cover too much in too little time and does start to feel a little unsatisfying, but then you get to the Live Aid performance. For me, it's the unquestionable highlight of the movie and a truly fantastic high to finish on, and would've left you walking out with a smile on your face if reality hadn't intruded with the pre-credits captions detailing the events that followed.
I don't think a better edit would improve this movie, but simply narrowing its focus and deciding what's really important from the start would've made for a better film. It often feels like a checklist of important events is being ticked off a list of what had to be included because people expect it.
The cast is great, and the give really good performances, especially as this isn't a rose-tinted look at their lives and almost everyone that appears comes across as a complete prat at some point or other - especially Freddie as his life slowly spirals out of control.
This really is a fun movie with a fantastic finale that makes you almost forget about the issues of everything leading up to it, but I think if I ever do watch this in the future at home that I'll skip certain scenes because they just lead nowhere - at least it'll help get to the Live Aid sequence sooner!
Bohemian Rhapsody is an enjoyable film, although it seems to rely on the audience knowing at least a little about what really happened, while twisting events to flow better as a film. By trying to squeeze in decades of events, none really get covered in the depth they deserve, although the final Live Aid sequence almost makes up for it by itself.