Review: Bohemian Rhapsody
Not many musicians have had the cultural impact of Queen. It’s difficult to find someone who can’t stomp along with “We Will Rock You” or belt out every ‘Galileo’ in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The power of the band’s music is something this new Freddie Mercury biopic understands. It shines when it focuses on the band’s iconic songs and Mercury’s unique performance style. It’s unfortunate that as the story of Mercury’s life, the film falls flat.
The movie opens in 1985 on the day of the Live Aid concert, then jumps back in time to Queen’s formation and rise to fame. Mercury’s story seems perfect for the big screen, and in the lead role, Rami Malek delivers an intensity that while perhaps not completely analogous to the singer’s, is nonetheless entertaining. Bohemian Rhapsody, however, doesn’t match the charisma of its subject or star. It follows the well-worn narrative steps of other music biopics, while providing little insight into Mercury and treating his bandmates as little more than set dressing. It’s a shallow, disjointed narrative that relies heavily on montages set to Queen’s biggest hits.
At its climax, the film returns to the Live Aid performance, which is recreated almost in its entirety. The sequence has an undeniable energy; it is, after all, one of the most lauded rock performances of all time. You’d have to mess up pretty badly to render it anything less than entertaining. Too bad the film just can’t find its way when the band is off the stage.
Should you see it? No, anyone but die-hard fans can skip it. — S.W.
Viewed at AMC Esquire 7