Bohemian Rhapsody Review
This review is way past due but given that the movie is still in theaters, I thought it’d still be appropriate to review. But that aside, Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of the legendary lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury. The story details Mercury’s journey of becoming Queen’s lead singer and subsequently the band’s successes and failures over the years. The film is dense with incredible music, delves deep into Freddie and him discovering his sexuality, and looks at the major AIDS crisis in America in the 1980s.
Freddie Mercury is an incredible performer, and Rami Malek, who plays Mercury in the movie, does an exceptional job at portraying that. Freddie had a certain physicality to him in his performances that is unlike anyone else and Malek is able to capture that spirit perfectly. It also helps that Malek also happens to be a pretty great singer as well as the music in the film is supposedly a mix of the original Freddie Mercury recording and Malek’s voice. We see Freddie Mercury go from being relatively shy to being a very flamboyant entertainer. In the movie, Mercury’s first performance is ultimately a success but it starts off a little shaky as he stumbles with his struggles of balancing his passion for the music with the actual space he has to perform, but of course, he ends up ditching the second half of the mic stand and holding with what is now his iconic half-mic.
Freddie Mercury and his Sexuality
Throughout the movie, we also see Freddie struggling with his sexuality as he’s initially dating, and later engaged to, Mary Austin. We see Freddie being in love with Mary with almost a head-over-heels way, yet he’s curious about other men. Mary, however, is aware of this before Freddie comes out to her, but stays with him until he’s ready to admit it to himself. Even though their romantic relationship ends, Freddie keeps in contact with her and makes it a point to do so because the fact that he’s gay doesn’t change his very deep love for her, which is also probably why he ends up being the stereotypical hard partying rock star for a while.
Then he’s in a relationship with Paul Prenter, the band’s manager. Paul really comes off as more of a villain in this film. Whether or not the actual Paul Prenter was actually that deceptive is unclear to someone like me, who was born after the fact but still continues to this day to enjoy Queen’s greatest hits. In the movie, Paul convinces Freddie to separate from the band later on in the movie, even though he was completely against the idea a few years prior when their former manager, Miami, suggested the idea. The movie portrays Paul, and ultimately his relationship with Freddie, as being pretty toxic.
After Freddie finally breaks it off with Paul, he moves on to his last love interest, Jim Hutton. Jim, in my opinion, is portrayed to be the best for Freddie as he seems like he’s the one who genuinely cares about him and his wellbeing. They don’t get together until near the end of the movie but we do finally get to see Freddie going to see his family. Freddie’s relationship with his parents throughout the film just isn’t really seen, but we do get the sense that he doesn’t have the best relationship with them; he changes his name legally to Freddie Mercury (as opposed to being Farrokh Bulsara) early on in the movie and just generally tries to separate himself from his family and his culture. Then, the movie turns to be more about Queen’s musical journey and Freddie’s sexuality, which is great, but it, unfortunately, made his rocky relationship with his family into seeming like more of an afterthought.
The AIDS Crisis
The last thing the movie address is the AIDS crisis and Freddie Mercury’s involvement in it. Near the end of the movie, we see a sick Freddie, who goes to the doctor to get himself checked out, and he finds out he’s got it. At that point, he’d gone solo but he wanted to get back together with the band and perform at Live Aid, a large benefit concert that raising money to fight AIDS. In the movie, Freddie goes to talk to the band, tells them that he wants to perform with them at Live Aid, and tells them that he has AIDS. They oblige and they perform together as Queen after years of not performing together.
There was a lot that I didn’t know about Freddie Mercury prior to watching this movie, including his relationship with his family. I knew that his name was, very obviously, a stage name but I never knew that him changing it was somewhat reflective of how he’d separated himself from his family and his culture. They gave us small snippets of it, more in the first half of the film, but then it popped back up again near the end. I wish they would’ve dedicated a little more screen time to that because his culture and his refusal to celebrate it is a big part of his identity, so it was disappointing to see the filmmakers introduce the concept without fully exploring it.
In addition to that, the AIDS crisis also wasn’t a fully fleshed plotline in the film. It was introduced pretty late in the film and was kind of glossed over, unfortunately. The performances at Live Aid were, however, a great ending to the movie because it’s what I feel like is Queen’s most well-known performance because it was even something that I was familiar with, which is very reflective of that fact because, again, I was born after Queen’s songs originally came out. Overall, the film did a really great job of portraying Freddie Mercury as an incredible performer and giving us an insight into his love life.
Have you seen Bohemian Rhapsody? If you have, let me know what you thought of the film down in the comments!
Samantha Nguyen covers entertainment news for MFST. You can follow her on Twitter @mzsnguyenthai and @mzsamnguyenthai. Also click here to read her personal blog.