By Cody Curtis, Staff Writer
Very few bands have the chance to blossom into stardom. Even fewer have the opportunity to influence society to such a degree that a biographical picture would be made about them. Bohemian Rhapsody, which was released into theaters on Nov. 2, is one of these very special biographical films. It’s the story of the band Queen, how they revolutionized the music industry, but more importantly the heartbreaking story of the lead singer, Freddie Mercury.
In 1970 Mercury (Rami Malek) is a young habitual singer and songwriter in college, where he studied fashion design. One night in a bar, the band ‘The Smiles,’ led by Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) lose their lead singer. At this moment Mercury seizes the opportunity, volunteering his vocals to the pair, who graciously accept. The team add John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) as a base player and form the band Queen. The film leads to the roaring performance Mercury and the others gave at Live Aid! At Wembley Stadium, in 1985, while at the same time touching the darkness that comes with the fame Mercury achieved.
Eight years ago the actor Sacha Baron Cohen was booked to play Mercury. However he quit the production, wanting to create the dark and raw version of Mercury. This was contradictory to what the real life May and Taylor wanted, who were part of the film’s production. While the darker interpretation may have been interesting, it undoubtedly would have condemned Mercury and erased the message he was giving to audiences everywhere.
Since the formation of Queen and until Mercury’s untimely death in 1991 from Aids complications, he was a shining example for everyone. He was a minority and had to hide the fact he was a homosexual during the 1980s. This did not discourage Mercury however, as he achieved everything he set out to do in his musical career. His message is clear: With hard work and a dream you can achieve anything you put your mind to, no matter your circumstances. This message is captured brilliantly in Bohemian Rhapsody and most of it boils down to the performance given by Rami Malek.
In 2012, Daniel Day-Lewis shook the world with his performance as President Abraham Lincoln. It seemed as though Lewis as an actor had disappeared and audiences were left with a resurrected Lincoln. A brilliant performance for sure. Malek gives a performance just as great, if not better and it is one that will emotionally rock you to the core. Malek vanishes from the screen. Mercury is brought back for a new generation to see him for the magnificent troubled man that he was. From mannerisms to vocal cadence, everything is perfect.
Bohemian Rhapsody does make the transgression of flipping the timeline of events. Certain real life events with Queen and Mercury seem a bit condensed, which in turn makes the other band members other than Mercury in the film feel lost in the crowd and unmemorable. While the timeless music of Queen rocks through any sound system in a theater, it cannot save the first 60 minutes of the 135-minute runtime from feeling choppy and rushed. There are indeed some interesting origins of certain favorite songs, such as the number the film is named after, but it too feels a bit rushed.
What does save these portions of the film from being unbearable to watch is the relationship between Mercury and his life-long love Mary Austin, eloquently portrayed by Lucy Boynton. This relationship is the emotional center of the film. It is an emotional rollercoaster and in some ways is like it’s own energetic concert. A concert which will make you tear up by the end.
More than anything else I can write about the brilliance of Bohemian Rhapsody, I implore you to see this film for Freddie Mercury. By the end of this film what is revealed about Mercury is an embodiment of someone who cared about other people more than he could even care about himself. A fasade may be put up by Mercury, but he was here for a singular purpose; to create emotionally resonating and unique music inspiring everyone. The legacy and legend left behind is awe inspiring. To those who will discover Queen and Mercury for the first time through this film, I am truly envious of the gift presented to you. Please do not take it for granted.