Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody ★★½

An empty film, Bohemian Rhapsody is not the film about Queen that I wanted it to be. This is a compromised, sanitised film, cobbled together to downplay anything negative that can be said about the band or its members.

Production troubles have notoriously plagued the film and it certainly means the film ends up being a studio-managed nothing. Original director Bryan Singer is a particularly bland choice to be the film's creative leader (as well as a rightly controversial pick in the current climate) but he brings spectacle and scale to the film, as well as a positive focus on queerness. Unfortunately the gay undertones feel incomplete, as if the film originally went further and was reined in. In fact, everything that is sexual or more dark is toned down and underplayed, distorting reality into a family-friendly environment. 

Queen too are embellished into fakery, their music made out to be constantly more experimental and groundbreaking than it was. The use of Live Aid as a moment showcasing them as pure good is a little hard to swallow too, as is the emphasis on how their performance alone boosted the money raised. Major events in the history of Queen are jammed together, with scenes frequently involving multiple significant moments as if time and chronology don't exist.

Still, Bohemian Rhapsody is an enjoyable watch. It's an energetic movie that nails what it needs to in order to succeed as a crowdpleaser. The songs are obviously anthems and always exciting to hear. It's a film which immerses you and takes you on a hell of a ride. It's all a lie, and obviously a lie, but something about it makes it effortlessly easy viewing. Rami Malek isn't really doing a Freddie Mercury performance in this film, as opposed to just an impression without inner depth, and yet he's so convincing that you forget he's not Freddie. Plus, the finale here is a marvel to behold, with music and atmosphere that stirs up the soul in excitement.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a really nice watch, capturing the imagination in its obsession with an icon. It doesn't hold up to scrutiny at all and directors Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher bring nothing but the most generic of filmmaking flourishes to proceedings, but you get two hours of inspiring music and entertaining storytelling. It's a shallow mess, but relatively decent.

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