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article imageReview: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is all cheers, no tears Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 2, 2018 in Entertainment
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the nearly non-confrontational, somewhat sanitized tale of the still-celebrated rock band, Queen, as they soared to stardom.
Origin stories are so powerful — and not just for superheroes. Seeing where and how someone or something began in some ways removes a bit of the mystique; but it can also earn them respect, admiration and gratitude. People are naturally curious, particularly about things they feel close to, so they are keen to consume information and media related to the object at the centre of their fandom. In some ways, it bridges the gap and strengthens their connection to something that will always be out of reach. The aptly titled, Bohemian Rhapsody, is another way into the world of Queen.
Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) was born Farrokh Bulsara. He always loved music, but his parents were Palestinian immigrants and he had a noticeable overbite that made him stick out in a crowd — but he claimed it also gave him phenomenal vocal range, which wins over guitarist, Brian May (Gwilym Lee), and drummer, Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), of the indie college band, Smile, who added bassist, John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello). After gaining popularity, Freddie renames the band Queen and gets them into a recording studio where they’re discovered by an executive who immediately offers them a deal. Their steady rise to fame is eventually hindered by Freddie’s addictions and the interference of his lover and the band’s Yoko, Paul Prenter (Allen Leech). But it all gets back on track for Live Aid in 1985. Sadly, Freddie died in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from AIDS.
Even though casual fans will learn a lot about the individuals who comprised Queen and how some of their biggest singles came to be, this is still the fairy tale version of the band’s story. Milestones are marked by the creation of a new No. 1 song, which is entertaining but potentially misleading. Their natural talents for song writing and proclivity for collaboration are whimsical as each new tune appears to be composed effortlessly. With no interest in repeating themselves or conventional sounds, the group is constantly experimenting and pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable for the radio. And even though everyone razzed Roger for his ode to a car, they still produced it for the album. This movie is about heart and writer/director Bryan Singer opts not to shine a light on any cracks in the veneer.
However, Queen’s music is so innovative and memorable, the soundtrack is a fundamental element of the narrative (though not to the extent of the musical inspired by the group’s discography, “We Will Rock You”). Even when the band is arguing, the music is the connecting thread that always brings them back together, particularly “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions” according to the film. The recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the reaction of the studio exec (Mike Myers) are some of the most amusing scenes in the movie. They make their lawyer, Mr. Beach, feel cool by renaming him “Miami,” which in turn makes him a loyal advocate and friend of the band — a fitting example of their ability and desire to reach out to the rest of the world’s outsiders and make them feel like they belong.
Finally, Malek is spectacular as Freddie. He captures his enthusiasm, passion, kindness. and, most importantly, his unapologetic attitude about who he was and who he wanted to be. Whether expressing his love for his wife, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), convincing the record executive of the power of their music, or describing the ecstasy felt at their concerts, Malek exudes Freddie’s spirit. In addition, the chemistry between the actors that comprise Queen is genuine. They quip with and support each other like family, and it’s one of the most consistent and moving aspects of the film. Not to mention, they all look remarkably like their counterparts.
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton and Gwilym Lee
More about Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen, rami malek, freddie mercury, Bryan singer
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