"Bohemian Rhapsody" Review - (Non- Spoiler)

Bohemian Rhapsody might be the most by-the-numbers biographical film ever made in terms of its story structure and diligent trope ticking.

Act one: The rise of Freddie Mercury and Queen. Check.

Act two: Reaching the top and then falling from those dizzying heights. Check.

Act three: the realization of error and the resultant redemption, tinged with a hint of sadness. Check and check again.

It really is all here.

What isn't is a closer exploration of Mercury's personal life. Namely the sex and the drugs to go with the rock' n' roll. Which is a shame as there seems to be so much more this film could have gone into rather than playing it overly safe. Much of this sanitized focus must be due to May and Taylor being EPs on the film and long-time manager, Jim Beach, also being a producer.

Bohemian Rhapsody does have an ace up its sleeve, however. And that ace goes by the name of Rami Malek. His performance is incredible and should be a shoe-in for an Academy Award nomination. One need only watch the original Live-Aid footage of Mercury and then compare it to what Malek achieves here to know that. But his whole portrayal oozes with such authenticity it is easy to forget this is an actor playing a real-life person - the hallmark of a truly great performance.

Credit, too, to everyone involved in re-creating the Live-Aid performance. The accuracy is astounding, right down to the placement of cups of Pepsi and beer on Mercury's piano during the opening half-rendition of the titular song. Only the most emotionally defended could watch this scene and feel nothing (or for someone to be asleep as per the guy snoring his ass off in the back of the theatre session I was in).

The editing in this film is also top notch with long-time Singer collaborator, John Ottman, on song with some excellent montages weaving the creation of a song in with rehearsals and then re-created performances.

Regardless of Malek's performance and the film's technical achievements, the rest of the band are reduced to one-note characters who are there because they have to be, but the audience never really gets to know them. May is the mediator, Taylor the obstinate one, and Deacon seems good-natured if perpetually bemused. As a result, everything in the film seems too easy, with even the conflicts between the band members reduced to a couple of scenes played for laughs, everyone getting annoyed with Mercury for being tardy, and then the moment where he effectively quits the band to focus on his solo career.

At the end of the day, fans of the band will lap it up. The decision to use the bands original and authorized recordings means anyone who loved Queen in their youth are going to love this film all over again. For others who never got into the band or are too young to understand what all the fuss was about, there is little to see here beyond Malek's impressive performance. I'm going to give "Bohemian Rhapsody" a 6 out of 10.

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