REVIEW: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ captures Freddie Mercury’s bold character, but held back by hard-to-follow plot

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Alex Novak

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a fearless and forceful depiction of one of the greatest singers and bands in music history, but it fails to captivate the audience consistently.

A biopic chronicling the formation and history of the band Queen, with a focus on extravagant and often outlandish frontman Freddie Mercury, it is without question entertaining.

But despite its thrills, the film falls into numerous lulls and overreaches in quite a few scenes, which results in the movie often losing the grasp of its wide-ranging subject matter.

The film has an odd tendency to abruptly transition from scene to scene and fluctuate in its tone in emotional scenes. The interesting story it is trying to tell instead seems like it’s searching for what it truly wants to be for the majority of its runtime.

The scenes feel forced and uninspired due to its strange ordering, and while they can individually be wildly entertaining, especially to see how some of their greatest hits came together in the studio, it falls off by failing to effectively convey the emotional pull it is aiming for.

Part of this is likely due to the complete lack of a musical score as it is carried by Queen’s music, but surprisingly including a few of their forgettable tracks and odd placement for many of their hits, some of which were used more than once. There’s also the use of silence to tell much of the story outside of the band writing or playing shows.

With an array of terrific scenes that showcase solid writing and directing from Anthony McCarten and Bryan Singer, respectively, the film does capture the life of Queen’s flamboyant frontman impeccably.

His mannerisms are mirrored to perfection by leading man Rami Malek, who delivers one of the best performances of the year, and the portrayal of fellow bandmates Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon (played by Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello, respectively) help contrast him sharply and highlight his outrageous ideas and actions extremely well.

More impressively, it captures his inner struggle with discovering his sexuality and dealing with the conflicts of his life in terms of his family, bandmates and producers.

Mercury has always been a polarizing figure, and this deeply explores his life outside of his musical success to accomplish this.

The fame he achieved with one of the greatest voices ever was impressive, but he dealt with internal questions of identity and seemed to often be lost and scared. He never takes control of himself or surroundings for much of his life, rendering a character with the strong voice of an angel — but voiceless to the problems that hurt him the most.

The movie is thrilling and ends well with his acceptance after contracting AIDS, when he finishes his life in peace and making music. The band’s legendary performance at Live Aid in 1985 ends the movie on a rocking note.

Flaws in editing and off-beat sequences in the plot keep this movie from being what it could have been.

Alex Novak is an entertainment reviewer. Contact him at [email protected].