It Will Rock You (Mostly)

Making a movie about Queen is no easy task. How do you condense 30 years of incredible music and the story of Freddie Mercury, who over time has been elevated to almost mythic status, into an easy-to-digest, two and a half-hour biopic?

After years of production complications, “Bohemian Rhapsody” comes through with an answer that for the most part sticks the landing.

Before I praise the film, it has one major setback. It is unbelievably generic at times. The script unfolds almost as if the screenwriters had a numbered how-to list next to them while writing it. The writing can also be bafflingly lazy. A scene where a young Freddie is told that he will never amount to anything (with which the film all but winks at the audience because obviously, we wouldn’t be watching this movie were that true) is particularly eye rolling. If you’ve seen any other biopic, you’ve already seen “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

But come on, that’s not why anyone wanted to see this movie. We want to hear and see Queen. We want to hear and see Freddie Mercury; and oh boy do we do that.

The film’s biggest strength is Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury. I’ve never been a fan of the hyperbole that actors “became” the people they were playing but that’s really what Malek does.

Malek plays Mercury with such restraint and tenderness. It would have been so easy for Malek to just jump in headfirst and make his performance big and flashy and dramatic, but he doesn’t. He isn’t just playing some caricature. He’s playing a real human being.

The rest of the cast is pretty stellar as well. Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello all respectively play Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon with enough heart that they don’t feel wasted, but they can’t help but be overshadowed by Malek.

The film’s soundtrack is appropriately spectacular as well. Queen made some of the most daring and fun music during their era and it’s all on fantastic display here. A wonderful greatest hits collection for long-time fans or the perfect primer for the one or two people in the world that have never heard a Queen song.

If you’re someone who doesn’t like Queen (you weirdo), then feel free to pass on “Bohemian Rhapsody”. If you have even a middling interest in the film, check it out. It’s a great, light and uplifting movie for the holidays.

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