Bohemian Rhapsody hasn’t been without its controversy. The first factor of this was this film’s gone between directors through the space of filming. The film was originally held by X-Men director Bryan Singer who left the project half way through to be taken over by Dexter Fletcher of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame.
Then the films trailer came out and fans complained that the trailer implied they were not going to concentrate enough on Freddie Mercury’s sexuality or his eventual AIDs diagnosis which would take his life. The fact of the matter is though, the film was still highly anticipated, the marketing for this film has been all over the place and the talks that this will lead to an Oscar nomination were being speculated prior to the film’s release. Before they make those speculations however, I think they should see the film.
Bohemian Rhapsody is the story of Freddie Mercury at the end of the day, he gets most of the focus outside the other band members. The film starts in a genius way with a glimpse into the iconic Live Aid performance they did in the 80’s. The film then flashes back to show the rides of their career, through the various stages of their life as well as Freddie Mercury’s self-destructive lifestyle. But the film also focuses quite heavily on his relationship with his first fiancée Mary Austin, played by Lucy Boynton.
Okay, here’s the fact of the matter, this is a film I describe as being very weird and rather unfocused, it’s very clear that this film’s had a change of director because it feels like two directions that are constantly in conflict with one another. If you are very familiar with Queens history, this film doesn’t really do anything you wouldn’t expect and it’s not exactly enlightening. I suspect the fact the relationship between Freddie and Lucy being played out over many of Freddie’s gay relationships is going to cause some controversy. Though the second half of the film definitely focuses on it a lot more.
The film is also bizarre in another sense. It seems like the music almost comes second. The film keeps going on about Freddie Mercury being this absolute legend of music, which he damn well was, but then in the second half of the film the music almost feels secondary about him. This is where the focus issue really comes into play. There’s a lot of points which seem rather dropped and there’s not much time to show transition. For example, Freddie Mercury’s family is actually rather brushed aside. They appear very briefly at the beginning of the film, then disappear for much of the middle act before turning up at the end of the film.
Much of the writing behind the music is also on and off. As you expect certain songs get more focus than others. The recording of the album Night at the Opera which featured Bohemian Rhapsody and many other of their great songs and is widely considered their best album, gets the majority of the focus. But there’s also a bit of a look into the process of songs like: We will Rock you as well as Another one bites the dust. The use of the song is actually one of the few times they fit the song in with the state of Freddie Mercury at the time. The best way to describe this is the film feels like a dramatized documentary from a book you’ve already read and that’s pretty much how I would go with it.
The film is rather interesting at points, it has some good moments, dives into some of Freddie Mercury’s performances pretty well, and damn the music performances do a good job.
I’ve not actually looked too much into the film for time constraints, but I’m assuming that he’s had dubbed over Freddie Mercury bits, including for live performance because frankly it would be damn near impossible. I’ve heard tribute acts that don’t come close to Freddie Mercury’s range.
In fact, one of the best moments of the film is the actual recreation of the Live Aid performance which is done almost to its entirety. But that being said, that is the best bit of the film. Something that I could go on YouTube and watch, or pick up a DVD from HMV. It was probably the biggest concert in the world, and it was a big deal for reasons that I won’t go into too much considering I wouldn’t mind people going to see this film but that does stand at reason, that’s one of the best parts of the film and that’s not a good selling point.
The film can also show some good heart and emotion but it can also feel a bit manufactured. By most biopics I’m definitely sure it’s going to receive a lot of “well that didn’t actually happen” comments, not realising this is actually meant to be a dramatization not a factual documentary, contrary to my previous statement.
The cast also has an interesting mix. You’ve got performances from guys like Aiden Gillen as John Reid, Tom Hollander as Jim Beach. Lucy Boynton does a pretty good job as Mary Austin. As well as an interesting performance from Aaron McCusker a Jim Hutton. One of the interesting ones for me was Mike Myers playing record producer, Ray Foster, I’m just glad to know that he’s still working. Gwilym Lee really embodies Brian May pretty damn well. The guy they got to play Bob Geldof really embodies him quite well, including the famous “send us your money bit” which has obviously been toned down from what has actually been said.
If there’s another film I can take props too it’s the cinematography which is excellent. I am amazed at how well they got it right. That’s just one of many points. The period accuracy is pretty damn good. There was clearly a lot of effort made with the authenticity of this, and it had clearly been written and made by people who really like Queens music. At the end of the day, it’s kind of all good intentions.
Bohemian Rhapsody at the end of the day is a film made with good intentions, but I get a sense of that it’s a film trying to please everyone, and not quite succeeding. Rami Malek’s performance alone raises this film much more that it would have been handled with a lesser actor and the actual music performances are damn excellent.
The film however does not give an extra insight. I think people that are interested in Freddie Mercury’s private life and his sexuality will not be entirely impressed by the film. People interested in Queens music will probably come off even more disappointed.
I commend Dexter Fletcher for taking over the project half way through and doing it to the best of his ability, but this does feel like a film that’s been fixed in post.
Well that’s Bohemian Rhapsody down. Next week I’ve decided to review the latest film from one of my favourite directors. Which if you’re reading this on day of release, it’s out today and will be repeated in cinemas on Sunday and this will be your last chance to see this film before it comes out fully on DVD and Blu-Ray. I would really recommend seeing it in cinemas. It’s Mirai.
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