Let’s Talk About BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (How I stopped kvetching & learned to watch a film for enjoyment again)

Let’s Talk About BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (How I stopped kvetching & learned to watch a film for enjoyment again)

I’ve read the negative reviews about BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, and they don’t seem to get it. I mean, we saw the same film, sure. However, I went into this one skeptical. The path to producing the movie was rocky, and Roger Taylor and Brian May probably had a little too much editorial control over the final script. And I loved it. The more I marinated on the film, the more I appreciate what it was, and what it accomplished (If you want some great notes on this, check out Jazmine Dudley’s review of the film – she hits a lot of the same notes, and came at it from a different angle. Plus, I will always promote women as film critics over my own rantings any day).

Let me be clear about this: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is not a Lifetime turn-over-every-stone biopic, bringing to light every seedy thing about Freddie Mercury. If that’s what you really want, fine. There’s plenty of hack jobs on YouTube to peruse. I’ve watched a few of them. If you want blood, they’ve got it. Bile, too.

However, RHAPSODY (BO HO? BOHEMIAN?) does something rather special. It manages to tell Queen’s story — and Freddie’s — in a way that does not cower from, nor gloss over, the various bits that would have torpedoed lesser talented groups. The film is light on gory details, because it doesn’t need to spell everything out for the viewer. They KNOW it wasn’t just one big bacchanalian party. They understand there was ridiculous drug use. They KNOW the boy toys were in great supply (I don’t really appreciate the notion that the remainder of the band were choir boys in comparison  —  see earlier note on script control).

The film does what is was designed to do: it tells the story of how a bunch of talented scrappers in the London university circuit scene decided they would be the biggest band in the world, and actually pulled it off. It seems unlikely, because it was. A band like this didn’t exist, so Queen filled the void.

RHAPSODY (I’m sticking with this one) also does not shrink from Mercury’s sexuality. At all. There were weird, unfounded concerns with the film straightwashing the story, and it could not be further from the truth. Again, it doesn’t go into gory details because it trusts the audience to fill in the gaps. It does play merry hob with the timelines of things, but it’s not offensive in its inaccuracy (just mildly annoying).

One thing I don’t know if I saw emphasized enough is the non-Rami Malek cast members and their UNCANNY portrayals of May (Gwilym Lee), Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) and Taylor (Ben Hardy). Not only were the performances spot on to their real-world counterparts, but Lee and Mazzello sincerely LOOK like May and Deaks.

I didn’t want to write a full review of the film, because I’m emotionally compromised when it comes to Queen. I saw the band twice — once with Freddie Mercury, and on their last jaunt through Dallas with Adam Lambert. (I was nervous about that as well, but Lambert does the impossible; he handles the frontman duties as well as Mercury’s legacy.) I also spent every dollar I had to my name to attend the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium.
So, when you see the way Live Aid was recreated on screen for BOHEMIAN, it’s fairly astounding how close they got it to the real thing. It’s truly impressive. A solid chunk of the film’s final act takes place there, and for good reason.

I’ve already said this film needs to be seen BIG and LOUD. I mean it. The sound mix is impeccable, and deserves the best delivery possible. That mean IMAX, FauxMAX, Alamo’s Big Show, whatever Large Screen format you prefer.
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is not a gritty, dark portrayal of Freddie Mercury and his many faults. It doesn’t need to be. It is a way for casual fans to see how Queen became legendary, and how Freddie Mercury grew from the legend in his own mind to the best frontman rock music has ever known.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY opens November 2, 2018

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About the Author

America's Sweetheart. Pixel monkey; media whore; recovering film critic; baseball fanatic; husband; Texan; human.