I like the music of Queen, and I find Freddie Mercury a very interesting person. What I’d really like to do right now is dig up a good biography of him because this movie… falls short.
Bohemian Rhapsody skims the surface of the formation and rise to fame of Queen, with a focus on Mercury. Yet that focus does not delve, and what the movie mostly serves up is a series of vignettes about how some of their best-known songs were conceived. That’s fine, I suppose, and there are some great musical moments, but it doesn’t do much to create tension.
From what I can tell, they tried to manufacture some tension by:
- showing some record execs that didn’t believe “Bohemian Rhapsody” could be a hit
- showing Freddie being in love with Mary, even slightly jealous about her falling in love with someone else and having a baby… except that really wasn’t explored very much
- showing Freddie partying hard while the rest of the band wanted to go home to their families (in, like, one or two scenes)
- showing Freddie often being late for things
- showing Freddie being offered a solo contract and the band reacting badly
- showing Freddie breaking the news of his illness to the band
None of the above is deeply examined by the movie; each is a mere plot point in what really is just a kind of film timeline of events. And timelines aren’t all that interesting to watch.
Nor is this timeline accurate. I won’t bother to list it all here; Wikipedia has done it for me. And while Bohemian Rhapsody is hardly the first (or last) movie to play fast and loose with the truth, the fact that it does so in order to up the tension—and yet the tension remains nil—is part of what makes the film fail in my eyes.
Yet I know many who love this movie. And I will say the actors do a tremendous job with what they’re given. I was a teensy bit distracted by Malek’s false teeth at first, but I got used to them as the film went on. Yet, despite that toothiness, I’d say this movie is largely toothless.