Starring: Rami Malek,Lucy Boynton
Directed by Bryan Singer
Rating: ***(3 stars)
Bohemian Rhapsody is a deeply flawed bio-pic on a deeply-flawed thought monstrously gifted musician-singer-composer who changed the way we looked at stadia-rock.
So how did Farrokh Bulsara become Freddy Mercury? The journey was a tumultuous one, here in this decorous and faithful bio-pic strewn with self-revelations(his homosexuality, for one) and the backstage chatter was overpowering in its power to build Freddy’s image as a mercurial musician who inhabited a stratosphere octaves above the rest.
This bio-pic, troubled by production glitches right through, succeeds in making Mercury look sassy and campy without flipping his music into the conundrum of eccentricity. Come to think of it, there is nothing really wrong with this bird’s eye view of life that defied deviant deification. It ticks all the boxes in the bio-pic genre , offends no one seriously and defends none either.
The non-judgmental not-taking-sides attitude is also an impediment to an unfettered easy-breathing ride. The narrative is too anxious to get it all right and to get it all into that 2 hour-space. Every landmark Queen song gets airplay and an elaborate pre-explanation in the scheme of things. Every character who ever touched Freddy’s life is brought in for considering, no matter how fleeting.
Sagaciously, the onus of opening out Freddy’s sexuality has been placed on his long-term “girlfriend” Mary Austin(played with an understated lustre by Lucy Boynton), The scenes between them where she is baffled by his response to gender issues are sensitively crafted, and a far cry from the hoarse aggressive look-at-me attitude adopted for all the recording and performing portions which are clearly meant to replicate the rabble-rousing energy of Mercury’s live performances.And they succeed in grabbing us by our jowls.
This brings me to this politically correct bio-pic’s central issue. Rami Malek as Freddy Mercury is everything you expect me to be, toothy mouth, wild hair , unisex clothes and girlie gait….it’s all there. But then again,this is not Freddy Mercury.This is Mercury according to Malek. I recently saw this interesting Egyptian actor in the remake of Papillon and I found him employing the same camera tricks here as Mercury as he did in Papillon. Which is not really a wrong thing to do. Every actor can only take a character as far as the performing skills allow. This one just doesn’t go far enough.
For a film attempting to encapsulate a life that lived by none of the rules, this bio-pic embraces a surprisingly propah tone of storytelling. Not ready to offend anyone, thereby reducing Freddy Mercury’s iconoclasm to a textbookish tell-all tale that tells all that we it wants to and nothing more.
Neither bohemian enough to give Freddy’s lifestory a dizzying spin nor quite a rigorous rhapsody, at the end of it all it’s not quite ‘We Will Rock You’. But neither is it ‘Another One Bites The Dust.’ If you are a Freddy Mercury fan(which I am not) you may want to know a lot more about him than this movie is willing to tell.