Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

Sophia DeDonatis, Reporter

On the weekend of November 2, Bohemian Rhapsody was given a meaning besides that of an unorthodox song that greatly shifted views on popular music: a film telling the story of the life of music legend, Freddie Mercury.

The movie has been highly anticipated ever since the first trailer came out and the movie released. People who have seen it have nothing but good things to say. There is also much speculation that the movie’s main star, Rami Malek, is a shoo in for an Oscar nomination.

The biopic kicks off right before the legendary performance of Queen at Live Aid in 1985. Lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) is shown gearing himself up for the show that would affect the lives of nearly everyone who witnessed it, as one of the band’s many hits, “Somebody to Love,” can be heard playing in the background.

Before Mercury and the band enter onto the stage, the scene cuts to the year 1970, when Mercury is working a run-of-the-mill job at Heathrow Airport with not an inkling of the glory that is to come. Later that night he goes to the concert of a band called Smile, where he first meets his future bandmates, Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and Brian May (Gwilym Lee), and his life-long friend, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton). The band’s original lead singer quits that night, so the young Freddie Mercury decides to establish himself as their new voice.

It’s a nearly inarguable truth that Mercury’s unique creative vision is what not only made the band so successful, but changed the music industry’s view of the unconventional. This very particular perspective on music and life was shown extremely thoroughly in the film.

While the movie mostly details Mercury’s life, the rest of the legendary band is still a massive part of the picture, just as they were a massive part of his real life. The movie’s casting was extremely spot on, in regards to the band members. All of the cast members look very much like their real-life counterparts, especially Gwilym Lee as Brian May, the band’s lead guitarist. Lee really captured May’s quiet demeanor, while also looking just like him.

Most of the movie’s major plot points are paired with the creation of one of the band’s hits. The biopic plays through Mercury’s engagement and eventual breakup with Mary Austin with the song “Love of my Life,” his brief solo career with the making of the album “Mr. Bad Guy,” and his experience with the AIDS virus with “Who Wants to Live Forever.”

One of the biggest complaints from critics is how the movie portrayed Mercury’s battle with AIDS. It was not one of the biggest focuses of the movie and some think it should have been. However, the people closest to him knew that he did not want to become a poster-child for the virus, hence why he didn’t reveal he was even infected until the day before his death. So making the movie a sob story, rather than a celebration of Mercury’s life, would have been a great disservice to him.  

However, there are a few inaccuracies in the movie. For example, Mercury had first become interested in May and Taylor’s band, Smile, through their original lead singer, Tim Staffell, and had often helped with the creation of songs before actually joining the band and dubbing it Queen. Also, the movie’s main antagonist of sorts, Paul Prenter, is made out to have treated Freddie and the band a bit worse than he actually did, but every movie needs a villain.  

Overall, the movie is a wonderful depiction of Freddie Mercury’s life and the band’s coming-of-age that captured the essence of all the characters’ real-life counterparts. One of the reasons for this is that there was input from some of the most important people in Mercury’s life, such as his bandmates, Roger Taylor and Brian May, and Queen’s manager, Jim Beach, whom the band affectionately called Miami.

Much care was put into representing Mercury in the way he would have wished to be remembered. It is clear that this movie was not made for critics, but rather for the people who appreciate the band and Mercury, himself. (5/5 stars)

Pictured are Queen’s four members recording the song that is the movie’s namesake, Bohemian Rhapsody. Shown from left to right is Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), Brian May (Gwilym Lee), John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello), and Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek). (Fox Movies)