Bohemian Rhopsody- The Movie
The Bryan singer helmed musical-biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ serves as a tribute to ‘Queen’ vocalist Freddie Mercury’s life as a musician and the genius of his musicianship, while also coping with his fluid sexuality and his struggle in acknowledging his attraction towards men, especially since he belonged to an orthodox Parsi family of Indian origin.
The film documents the band’s meteoric rise from playing in small pubs in their native UK to headlining at the ‘Live Aid’ concert at Wembley Stadium in 1985, watched by two billion people worldwide. It follows the metamorphosis of Farrokh Bulsara, a baggage handler at Heathrow airport, into Freddie Mercury, the charismatic front man of arguably the most popular rock n’ roll act of the 1980’s, ‘Queen’.
The film chronicles the life of Freddie Mercury in relation to his band, his myriad lovers, and also explores his relationship with Mary Austin (played compellingly by the very talented Lucy Boynton). Freddie’s vulnerability and his insecurities have been highlighted in the film and more often than not, he is depicted as a victim. It seems like a missed chance to exhibit the trademark flair, chutzpah and confidence which Freddie exhibited in his sporadic public appearances. Where the film falters is in its depiction of Freddie’s queer sexuality as one of his vices and insecurities, the real Freddie was always comfortable in his skin. The film shows Freddie’s rise and eventually, towards the latter stages, deals with his struggle with AIDS.
The film also takes some liberties with the timeline as well (for instance, Queen had been actively touring before the ‘Live Aid’ concert and their hiatus had occurred earlier).
The hair and make-up department must be lauded for their efforts as they have perfectly replicated the glamorous costumes and hairstyles of the band members. The bright and vibrant colour palette and it’s distinct period-drama style lends it an aesthetic appeal and the brilliance of the cinematography ensures that this film will go down as one of the most visually stunning films shot this year. The performances too have been performed with a certain nuance and the entire cast does a commendable job in bringing the rock ‘n roll era of the late-70’s and early 80’s to life. Rami Malek inhabits the skin of the embattled crooner with tremendous energy as well as emotional depth and has been able to capture the electrifying nature of Freddie’s live performances, to a large extent.
“I want to give the audience a song that they can perform, so stomp to this beat and clap on the third beat”, says guitarist Brian May at one point in the film, laying the foundation for the iconic hit ‘We Will Rock You’. These snippets, which show how their iconic songs came into being, are the stand-out moments in the film. The climax at the ‘Live Aid’ performance is electrifying and will have you crooning along if you happen to be a fan of the band. In retrospect, the film is a feel-good affair which could have added a bit more depth by diving deeper into the world of ‘Queen’ and the enigma of Freddie Mercury. While Singer does depict the tale of a talented performer’s rise to lofty heights and his eventual fall from grace with technical dexterity, where he fails to convince is in Mercury’s depiction as a son, a lover, and a friend; in other words, as a human being.