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Cottonwood Holladay Journal

Dan's Review: Rise up and cheer for "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Nov 02, 2018 03:30PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Bohemian Rhapsody (20th Century Fox)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content, and language.

Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech, Mike Myers, Aaron McCusker, Dermot Murphy, Meneka Das, Ace Bhatti, Priya Blackburn, Dickie Beau, Neil Fox-Roberts, Philip Andrew, Matthew Houston, Michelle Duncan, Max Bennett, Jack Roth, Adam Rauf.

Written by Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan.

Directed by Bryan Singer.

GRADE: A-

REVIEW:

We Will Rock You. We Are the Champions. Another One Bites the Dust. Somebody to Love. Crazy Little Thing Called Love. These are only a few of the hit songs from Queen, one of the most successful English rock bands of the 1970s and 80s. Their biggest breakthrough hit is widely considered to be Bohemian Rhapsody, which also the title of Bryan Singer’s new film about Queen and its lead singer Farrokh Bulsara, a.k.a. Freddie Mercury.

The film covers the band’s beginnings when Mercury (Rami Malek) joined a band named “Smile” back in 1970. His gaudy influence immediately changes the band’s style, and they quickly rename themselves “Queen.” The other bandmates are guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and bassist John Deacon (Joe Mazello, who you may remember as the kid in the original Jurassic Park movie). Mercury also meets the lovely Mary Austin (LucyBoynton), and they fall in love. As the band’s popularity takes off, they are signed by a major record label, and they begin recording. Their first album is a hit and they go on tour, returning to start another round of recording. The result of their experimental strategy is “A Night at the Opera” with its lynchpin son “Bohemian Rhapsody.” A studio exec named Ray Foster (played by Mike Meyers) hates the song and refuses to release it as a single (he even makes a not-so-subtle reference to Wayne’s World that will induce belly laughs). Freddie and the band walk away from the record deal and decide to release it through another label. The rest is history, as the song and the record become a huge hit, despite unfavorable reviews. Meanwhile, Freddie and Mary’s relationship begins to deteriorate due to the separation, and in no small part due to the realization that he’s bisexual. The pair remains as friends, even though Freddie indulges in all sorts of wild parties and homosexual trysts. As time passes, Freddie’s behavior leads to Queen’s eventual breakup as Mercury strikes out on a solo career. His live-in lover and personal assistant Paul (Allen Leech) keeps the party going and sabotages any attempt for Freddie to reconcile with his old mates and Mary. During the Queen breakup, Mercury contracts AIDS and finally kicks Paul out of his life, just in time to reunite with the band for a performance at Live Aid, a 1985 worldwide concert organized to raise money for the Ethiopian famine.

Bohemian Rhapsody has its flaws, including occasional uneven dialogue, a jumpy series of events (some songs are played well before they were released in the movie’s timeline) and a few slow moments that drag on (especially just before the finale). Some may take issue with the film’s PG-13 rating, which by default whitewashes over some of the seemlier moments in Mercury’s life, especially his decline from AIDS.

Despite these small imperfections, the rest of the movie is a pure delight, especially when it comes to the music and even more so due to Rami Malek’s incredible on-stage performances. The concerts and recording sessions are awesome, fun, and a true homage to Mercury’s memory - and Queen’s everlasting appeal.

In the end, it’s Queen’s music that shines through in Bohemian Rhapsody. The music will make smile as you stomp your feet to “We Will Rock You” and you will have to resist cheering in the theater as Queen makes their triumphant return to the stage.  

Bohemian Rhapsody Trailer