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Bohemian Rhapsody




Best thing I could say about Bryan Singerís Bohemian Rhapsody is that itís not a complete trainwreck. Or, "I guess it couldíve been worse". What it all adds up to, as a whole, is something rather Oscar-baity, and kind of VH1-ish; borderline on being made-for-TV tier, despite the budget (how much of that is a result of re-shoots or Bryan Singer's vision, I'll let you be the judge). Though, not without it's fair share of cinematic moments (glimmers of hope, if you will). That being the Live Aid Performance, Malek charismatically roaming around on stage to the tunes of the band. Along with Freddie finding out his disease to "Who Wants to Live Forever" (probably the only part of the film I started singing along-with, due to how strongly the medley fits in thematically within the context of the film). "Ayo".

What really held my interested throughout was Rami Malek's lead performance. In actuality, I don't know if anyone really has the charisma to play Freddie. I've also seen probably half a dozen people go as Freddie for Halloween, and then do karaoke. Copying the iconic moves from his stage performances doesn't exactly take a top tier actor to pull off. But somehow, he made it his own; expressions, mannerisms, posture, etc. And for that I applaud him to a degree. And while Malek IS great at capturing Mercury's stage presence, and could easily handle the heavy emotional stuff, I couldnít help but think how much the mouthpiece was as a source of constant distraction (to the point that there were times when I couldn't even appreciate his acting). Yes, Freddie Mercury had extra teeth, and when he opened his mouth you could see he had some big chompers. That doesn't mean he looked like a jackrabbit when his mouth was closed. Also, I didn't think Malek got Mercury's speaking voice quite right. Malek has a gravelly quality to his voice, which he couldn't fully disguise, and it sounded strange coming out of Freddie Mercury's mouth. And Malek is not "terrible" by any means, he's just too self-aware. Yes, this is a flamboyant portrayal from one of the most flamboyant icons in music, but I could just see between the lines of Malek's performance. It's loud, robust, but there's no deep understanding of Freddie Mercury, and that falls on both Malek and the screenplay. Everything scratches the surface, but never puts any effort into digging deep into it.

Everything else is borderline mediocre; the direction, cinematography, writing, and everyone else's performance besides Rami Malek is fairly flat (Lucy Boyntonís character, along with her bad performance, is particularly dull and uninteresting). The film editing in particular is an abomination (48 cuts in 76 seconds. Now's that's quality.) Now, someone would argue It's supposed to symbolize the frantic fast-paced life of a rockstar. But, even in scenarios where the quick cuts aren't needed, it mindlessly inserts them. And the sound work is also fairly dreadful. I suppose the only major positive of this disappointment of celluloid is that you could tell just by the events of the film that the members of Queen had far too much respect for Mercury to not include midgets running around with plates of coke on their heads. After all the disgusting slew of musical biopics that meaninglessly delve deep into their protagonists degenerate antics (The Doors, Sid and Nancy), this film actually does head-and-shoulders maturely above the rest while still slightly adhering to the parabola formula in a fine manner. If you wanted to see coke parties and over-the-top rockstar life: you're not getting it. Freddie's flaws are rarely shown, and only used as a plot device for his own redemption. And yet, all of that admiration for the band's respect for their longtime companion comes crashing down when the screenplay flatters the other band members. Apparently any tension within the band was entirely Freddie's fault; who knew? And aside from the ex-wife, you don't really have any good supporting characters bouncing off the lead. There wasn't any sense of bonding within the band, or sense of how much time had passed. Then, at the end, he's with this guy you saw him have one scene with, years prior, and then you get the cards at the end about how he died. Very little emotional impact in what should have been a heart wrenching film.

All in all: a flawed crowd-pleaser. It's entertaining, at best, if you like Queen, but it's nothing memorable if you strip that away.