It has frankly been amazing to see the torrent of love Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody has received from the award bodies and people in general. While it is no surprise that there are Queen and Freddie Mercury fans out there, it is surprising that they were willing to overlook, so, so many problems in this film.
In a way, the film is comparable to a superhero film in how the brand name alone can get people to fill cinema halls. But, despite Rami Malek’s magnetic performance there is absolutely little else to find enjoyable about this biopic.
While Malek manages to capture the essence of Mercury and woo us in every scene, there is not a single another supporting cast member who holds their own. Lucy Boynton’s Mary comes close, but she is not given much material to work within the first place.
It feels like there is no soul in Bohemian Rhapsody and Malek, as brilliant as he is, can only do so much to keep this sinking ship afloat.
The musical numbers in this film are also livened up by Malek who struts around the stage with Mercury’s signature commanding presence leading to some truly standout moments. But there isn’t enough of that to save this ridiculously lousy musical film.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a study in what constitutes a bad biographical film. It is a fact universally known that a person’s perception of the world and the things he does are biased from their own point of view, and so, when making a true to life documentary or feature film directors and writers are careful to explore more than just one school of thought on each and every issue when trying to give a fair and honest narrative.
That whole idea is thrown out of the window by Brian May and the other members of Queen who go to great lengths to rewrite history and make Mercury the bad guy, painting themselves in a positive light even though the way certain events transpire in the film are entirely fabricated. The core element of truth is missing from Bohemian Rhapsody because of the amount of creative powers bestowed.
Other than Rami Malek’s magnetic performance there is absolutely little else to find enjoyable about this biopic.
The result is a film with an almost unabashedly skewed version of events that detail Mercury’s trajectory from a baggage handler at an airport to the lead singer of the biggest band in the world. Riddled with inconsistencies and shaped by Bryan Singer who left the project halfway through filming, Bohemian Rhapsody is easily one of the worst films to come out in 2018.
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There have been numerous biographical films that have verged on being entirely fictional, but the good among them at least managed to be entertaining. Bohemian Rhapsody is not entertaining but what is shocking, especially in the wake of its many awards wins (including the Best Drama win at the Golden Globes as well as Best Actor, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing at the Academy Awards), is what an incompetent movie it is.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a study in what constitutes a bad biographical film
With Suicide Squad-level bad editing, a storyline that is clichéd and a script doesn’t give room for any other person to have a character let alone be multidimensional, Bohemian Rhapsody’s hackneyed approach to sexuality and race also leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
It is not enough that the film shows us that Mercury is ashamed of his Indian heritage, the film wants us to know how hard he works on changing his identity but does not deem it important to provide a nuanced narrative of why someone in that time period would prefer being white over brown.
The mere fact that Bohemian Rhapsody has become the highest-grossing biopic of all time is mind-boggling given that the many discrepancies in the movie from reality prove to be so distracting. There is a great deal of irony in the fact that one of the most charismatic rock stars of all time gets a film as banal as this.
While we can excuse the TV show-level direction to behind the scenes turmoil, there is no clear reason why Anthony McCarten’s screenplay is so inept in showing the inner transformation of Mercury as well as establishing any other character properly.
Ultimately it feels like there is no soul in Bohemian Rhapsody and Malek, as brilliant as he is, can only do so much to keep this sinking ship afloat. Bohemian Rhapsody is great for what it did for Rami Malek’s career, whose Best Actor Oscar really is well earned, but those looking for a film that does right by Mercury will have to wait.