November 16th, 2018
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? These are the questions that viewers and critics faced going into the much anticipated movie, Bohemian Rhapsody.
Named after their most famous song, Bohemian Rhapsody follows the evolution of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the iconic band Queen, as he became a singer to be remembered for generations to come.
The movie, starring Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, takes place from the 1970s through the mid-1980s as Queen begins their journey and takes off into stardom. Not only does Bohemian Rhapsody depict Mercury’s life in the band, but the audience also gets a look into his personal life.
I was born in 2002, so by the time I was around, Queen and Freddie Mercury were not. Therefore, I did not know a lot about the band or its members and never really thought to look into it. It was especially interesting to see Bohemian Rhapsody with little to no prior knowledge of the band. Growing up, all I was exposed to were Queen’s top five songs. As a result, I was sucked in to the band’s rise to stardom.
Due to the less accepting time period of the movie, Freddie’s sexuality was a main focus. Freddie first came out as gay to Mary, his fiancé, after she mentioned that they had not been as close lately. First he said he was bisexual, but when she accused him of being gay, he could not refute it. They canceled their engagement and instead became friends, tearing at the audiences’ heart strings. He had secret gay relationships with the men in his life. The theme of secrecy and cover up weighed heavily on the remainder of the movie, forming the rest of Freddie’s life until his eventual AIDS diagnosis.
It was during the coming out scene with Mary and an interview scene where multiple reporters questioned Freddie’s personal life and his sexuality that it became apparent how similar society is today compared to the 1970s and 1980s when it comes to being queer. It made me thankful and overjoyed to live in a county where anyone can freely love whomever with less stigma and consequences, both physically, and socially, in comparison to the time period of the movie. However, in many parts of the country and the world, there are still many negative consequences for those who do not identify as heterosexual.
The second half of the movie focused primarily on Freddie’s downfall as a solo artist after breaking away from Queen, his drug use, and his AIDS diagnosis. During the AIDs outbreak of the 1980s, Mercury fell victim to the then-fatal disease which was revealed in the movie when Freddie had hit his lowest. He was trapped in an abusive and controlling relationship with his old Queen manager, Paul Prenter, and turned to heavy alcohol, cigarette, cocaine, and other drug use. Malek’s portrayal of a spiraling Mercury seemed as if I were watching Mercury’s life unfold in real time right before my eyes. From his confusion over Prenter’s secret keeping, to dealing with addiction, to having to cope with his deteriorating health, Malek was the perfect choice for the role and I continued to find tears welling in my eyes as I watched the second half of the movie. The movie closed out with Mercury and the rest of Queen performing at Live Aid and a short summation of the remainder of Freddie’s life.
The content of the movie definitely was very interesting, however, the speed of the movie seemed rather slow for a rock-and-roll biopic. The second half, although very interesting seemed to drag on and instead of a two hour movie, Bohemian Rhapsody felt like a five hour movie. Going into the movie, it is better to expect a biopic about Queen’s songwriting and Mercury’s life, but do not expect to be filled in about a lot of the band’s life.
The casting of the movie could not have been more perfect. Each character looked nearly identical to their real life counterparts, from the outfits to the funky hairstyles. In my opinion, the casting director, Susie Figgis, deserves an Oscar for her pristine casting job. She is known for her role as casting director behind the scenes of hit movies, such as Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (2001), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016).
Bohemian Rhapsody was directed by Bryan Singer. In addition to the story of Queen, he has also most notably directed movies like The Usual Suspects (1995), X-Men (2000), Superman Returns (2006), and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). He has also produced many different movies and tv shows, including Battle Creek (2015), X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), and Legion (2017-2018). Singer was nominated for four Primetime Emmy awards and has won two of his eight Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films nominations for Best Director.
As popular songs flashed onto the screen, I could not help but mouth along. When Freddie was diagnosed with AIDs and told his bandmates, my eyes welled up with tears. When the credits rolled, I strongly considered clapping but realized I would be the only one as the numerous 80 year olds walked out of the bustling theater. Bohemian Rhapsody is a movie that deserves a watch from you and your friends and great recognition during the upcoming award season. Overall thoughts, magnifico-o-o-o.