BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, 2018 is the highest grossing musical/biographical film of all time, as of January 2019. Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, and Gwilyn Lee, this movie dives directly into the relationship between Queen’s lead singer Freddy Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara) and his band mates, leaving Freddy’s formative years to remain a mystery.
Formed in 1970, Queen was originally named Smile, but after Freddy stepped forward and became the premier front-man, the band’s meteoric rise to stardom seemed well underway. In response, Freddy renamed the band Queen.
With audiences still amazed by Freddy’s 4-octave vocal range, it wasn’t surprising the Rami Malek’s singing voice was mixed with Marc Matel’s for the BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY film, although only Queen’s original recordings will be found on the film’s soundtrack.
Music fans will enjoy the movie, unable to stop themselves from singing along and swaying to the familiar anthems. Freddy’s favorite stage prop, a broken microphone stand, and of course his pronounced overbite, will also ring true. What you might miss are any revelations as to the emotional pain and confusion in his personal life, as he struggled to maintain a relationship with long time love Mary Austin, while alternately exploring his own bisexuality.
I realize it would have been extremely difficult to come out publicly as a bisexual or gay man during Freddy’s life. When he turned 30, homosexual acts between consenting adults had only been decriminalized in the UK 6 years prior. Still, being the first major rock star to die of aids, actual insight into Freddy’s struggles could have been enlightening; instead they were merely stepping stones in the rushed timeline.
Queen’s historic reunion performance at the first Live Aids concert in 1985 was touted by many as the best live performance in rock n’ roll history. Rami Malek manages to take us back, as if once again we are part of the 1.5 billion viewers united in African famine relief.
Only one day after Freddy Mercury finally announced to the world that he had contracted AIDS, he died. He was only 45 when he passed from aids related complications in November 1991.
I think it needs to be noted that Freddy was such a talented song writer, he’d written 10 out of 17 hits from Queen’s Greatest Hits Album. Music fans of Queen will enjoy this film, but anyone looking for deeper insight into Freddy’s life will be disappointed. Directed by Bryan Singer, PG-13, 133 mins, biography, musical, drama, ***3 stars out of five.