Film Review: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (USA/UK 2018) ***

Bohemian Rhapsody Poster

A chronicle of the years leading up to Queen‘s legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert.


Bryan Singer


Anthony McCarten (screenplay by), Anthony McCarten (story by) | 1 more credit »


BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is a biography of the British rock band Queen concentrating on lead signer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek from I, ROBOT and PAPILLON) set from the band’s formation to the band’s performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert in 1985.  Director credit goes to Bryan Singer though he was replaced before shooting was compete by Dexter Fletcher.  (America’s director’s guild, the DGA only allows one director credit).

The story centres on Freddie Mercury.  He is shown at the start of the film at odds with his Pakistani family, particularly his strict father in his small London home.  After a visit to a small club, he replaces the band’s lead singer and before long, he leads the band now called Queen to fame.  The script by Anthony McCarten gives Mercury a lot of credit (perhaps too much) for the band’s success.  The other band members (with Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Queen lead guitarist, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, Queen drummer and Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon, Queen bass guitarist) are given brief mention.

Besides this flaw giving Mercury too much credit – the film even bookmarks the film with his entrance onto the Live Aid Concert- the film is overlong, stretching past the 2 hour length.  The climax of the film – Queen’s performance of their hits could have been shortened for  better effect.  The desire to please audiences results in the film falling into clichéd territory.  Father of the family finally approves his son’s success, including the father’s advice of good thoughts, good words, good deeds being repeated at the film’s conclusion.  The blowing of a kiss by Mercury to his mother, as promised is yet another example.  Mercury’s story also falls into the standard mould of rock band/singer’s biographies – of rise to stardom, fall from grace and recovery back to existence with life lessons learnt, with hit songs dispersed in the process.

What the film benefits from is lead actor’s Rami Malek’s diversified performance, especially his showmanship during the Live Aid Convert.  Malek has demonstrated his acting chops already this year with an unforgettable performance in PAPILLON.

Mercury’s relationships are also given full display including his bi-sexualilty.  Mercury’s first girlfriend Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) is demoted from first-class lover to best friend as Freddie finally takes on a male partner, Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker).

As in most biographies on subjects with AIDs, the audience is informed that Mercury has contacted the decease with credits informing that his death later followed from complications due to the disease, with no details of his suffering or maybe regret.

Queen fans should be pleased with the rendering of most of the band’s hits including the title song, “Another One Bites the Dust and “We are the Champions.”

One of the film’s producers is Queen’s third manager, Jim Beach, played by veteran Brit actor Tom Hollander.  Mike Myers has a small role as n EMI executive.

What BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY has going for it are the performances of the band’s songs and Malek’s acting.