Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Review
By: Joie LaRiviere
Can anybody find meeeeeeeee...a box of tissues? I have been anticipating the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody” since its announcement. I am a fan of Queen like many others, knowing mostly just their biggest hits, like “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We Will Rock You”. And now, after watching “Bohemian Rhapsody” the movie, I have expanded my Spotify playlists with other incredible Queen songs, including “Radio Ga Ga” and “Hammer to Fall”. I found this movie exciting, funny, and, though inaccurate in some aspects to the true history of Queen, incredibly raw in its reality.
It is apparent in “Bohemian Rhapsody” that so much heart, soul, and work were put into this movie, by both the actors and the people working behind the scenes. I would like to give a special shout-out to the Casting Director, Susie Figgis, who did her job amazingly well. Old pictures of the real Brian May (who was the lead guitarist of Queen) and recent photos of Gwilym Lee (the actor who played Brian May) put side-by-side are so similar, it’s uncanny. Same goes for Joseph Mazzello, who played the part of Queen’s bassist, John Deacon, or “Deaky”. They are true doppelgangers. Very attractive doppelgangers, I might add. And such dedicated actors! Rami Malek, playing the legendary lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, wore fake teeth for months to get used to them. He also took singing lessons, while his “bandmates” took drum, bass, and guitar lessons. It truly does look like Malek’s voice is singing, though the music in the film is dubbed. The movements of the band in the movie almost perfectly mimic those of the real Queen. The performance at LiveAid by the movie’s Queen is identical to the real performance.
In a well-made film, it is essential for the actors to have chemistry on screen. And did they! The way the actors played off of each other is easy to see. They are charming individually, but together, they are captivatingly charismatic. The movie definitely has its moments where the personality and role of each band member shines. The strong character of Roger Taylor (played by Ben Hardy), the silly and easily likeable Deaky, the rational but sweet Brian May, and the dramatic Freddie Mercury. And, as any Hollywood movie would, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has its antagonist. (Spoilers incoming. If you haven’t yet watched this movie, I suggest you stop here. Or don’t. I can’t control you.) The character of Paul Prenter, one of Queen’s managers, played by Allen Leech, slowly becomes the worst person. He becomes this manipulative, borderline abusive partner of Freddie Mercury, causing palpable tension within the band. And it is incredibly satisfying to watch his defeat.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” tackles many difficult subjects in a raw but respectful manner. For example, it addresses the AIDS crisis, which sadly took Freddie Mercury too early. It is very emotional, causing even me to shed a tear, though I rarely do for movies. You can tell how hard it was for the band and for Freddie to deal with the awful news. It also covers the topic of sexuality, and Queen’s role in breaking gender norms, with interesting concepts like those found in the “I Want to Break Free” music video. In a time in which it was difficult to be anything but heterosexual, the movie expresses the stress put on Freddie Mercury when rumors about his sexuality were spread. In short, “Bohemian Rhapsody” does a phenomenal job of making you feel ~emotions~.
Of course, the music of the film is awesome. It describes the process of songwriting and recording, and how queen manipulated those processes, adding in interesting tactics like operatic sections. The claim to fame of the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” is hilariously expressed. After being rejected at first by Ray Foster (Mike Myers), due to its length and peculiarity, the movie follows the song’s rise to the top of the charts. Mike Myers’s part as a record executive is a wonderful ironic comic relief, alluding to his part as Wayne banging his head to “Bohemian Rhapsody” in “Wayne’s World”. The movie really shows “Bohemian Rhapsody” and its impact as a song that was truly different. The audience participation is also addressed in the movie, showing how the audiences of Queen’s concerts would sing their songs back to them, and how they were able to participate in “We Will Rock You”. The scene in which the audience sings “Love of My Life” is goosebump-inducing.
If you like Queen at all, I guarantee that you will enjoy “Bohemian Rhapsody”. You may laugh, you may cry. You may find yourself stomping your feet and clapping your hands. You may sing along, or dance in your seat. Whatever you do, you will be entertained. I am by no means a movie critic, but I would really recommend this movie to anyone. It is definitely worth watching.