Upon seeing the first trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody, I, along with everyone else, was overtaken with shivers of excitement. A film, a musical biopic on one of the greatest bands of all time, with Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury? I knew this was a film I had to see. But as the reviews started pouring in, some phenomenal, some incredibly disappointing, my excitement lessened as hesitation seeped in. Would Bohemian Rhapsody amount to nothing more than just another over-hyped could-have-been success?
I should never have worried. And if you haven’t yet seen it, neither should you. Bohemian Rhapsody is nothing short of an emotionally and musically epic experience, and Rami Malek nothing short of an entrancing vision. It is so much more than the average film critics are painting it to be. It’s extraordinary.
The film follows a young Freddie Mercury, back when he’s still known by his birth name, Farrokh Bulsara, who works at Heathrow Airport until a band he’s been following, Smile, finds themselves in desperate need of a lead singer. And so, Queen was formed. The film takes us through the well-known story of the band, through its highest highs and lowest lows. From their hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, the song they rightfully insisted was their hit single despite its length, to Freddie leaving the band, to their reunion and iconic performance at the Live Aid Concert.
I will say this much. If you’re looking for a film that will reveal the most unknown details of Freddie’s life, or a film that dives into the lesser known details and moments of Queen, this is not that film. Bohemian Rhapsody is not an in-depth, moment by moment biopic. It’s a story about a bold man with a voice like no other, a band that did something no one else could have, and a group of people who knew that to achieve greatness, barriers needed to be broken. It’s more than its incredible music. It’s about family.
It isn’t an overstatement to say that this film relied heavily on its casting decision. The actor playing Freddie had to be more than strong, he had to be unarguably perfect for the role. Anything less and the film would have suffered. But Rami Malek takes on Freddie Mercury so completely that there’s more than one moment you’ll forget you’re watching Malek playing Mercury. You’ll think you’re actually watching Mercury.
Malek is incredible in his moments on stage, to be sure, but it is the subtlest of moments in living rooms and recording studios that shine just as brightly as those in the spotlight. From the slightest mannerisms, the way he walks, certain annunciations, every single moment Malek is onscreen, Mercury’s energy pours out of him in a way that seems effortless. In fact, leaving the theater, I was certain. As sure as Freddie Mercury was born to sing, Rami Malek was born to play him. His performance is a kind of a magic, and on more than one occasion will have you in tears.
Bohemian Rhapsody is filled with moments of both heartbreak and hilarity. His diagnosis will leave the theater so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Whereas the recording of the title song, Bohemian Rhapsody, when after God knows how many Galileo’s have been recorded does Roger think to ask, ‘Who is Galileo?’ will have the entire theater erupting into laughter. But above all, this film will move you as much as their music does. It leaves you with this inspiration running through every vein in your body. Mercury was confident, resilient, unable to be silenced or swayed in what he knew was true genius, in what he believed in. That spirit lives on in Rami Malek’s performance, and is passed down to each audience member before they leave the theater. Inspiration, confidence, and an overwhelming flood of all the best parts of humanity pour out of this film, out of Malek himself. And the rest of the cast is just as incredible. From Lucy Boynton’s touching portrayal of Mary Austin to Tom Hollander’s truly fantastic performance as Jim ‘Miami’ Beach. And let’s not forget the rest of the band. The chemistry between Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello (Brian, Roger, and John, respectively) and Rami Malek is unquestionable, their energy so palpable that you truly do feel it washing over you.
Let the critics hate. As the film reminds us, Bohemian Rhapsody, the song, received its fair share of less than pleasing reviews when it was released. It was bold, unapologetic, uplifting, and tearfully moving. And the film is quite the same. Critics do what they have always done best, criticize. But just as people loved the song, we love the movie just as much. If anything, the negative reviews remind us that no matter what we do, there will always be those who seek to question what we do, what we are capable of. There will always be those who don’t believe in us. But if we’re willing to believe in ourselves, greatness can be achieved. Queen reached and continues to reach billions, inspiring us every day with their truly timeless music. And Bohemian Rhapsody is destined to do the same.
Bohemian Rhapsody Is In Theaters Now.