The band Queen is iconic because of not just their singles but their bold, genre-flipping style. Yet, the biopic on their life feels more like the kind of safe, accessible tunes that their former record label wanted to give more airplay to rather than the risky poetic tune that the film gets its title from. It attempts to check all the right biopic boxes when it could’ve been as unconventional as the band it depicts.
That being said, Bohemian Rhapsody is still a moderately made film and it is done with slight filmmaking flare. It also serves as a celebration of the music of Queen even if it is more of a biopic on the life of Freddie Mercury who is played amazingly by Rami Malek. He gives one of the best performances of the year as the famed singer, demonstrating Freddie’s flamboyant nature without going overboard and hitting the character’s hardest emotional beats during his quietest moments.
Malek gives a performance that is rather larger than life yet his co-stars still manage to hold their own. A few standouts in particular are Lucy Boynton as Freddie’s longtime companion, Mary, and Ben Hardy as Queen drummer Roger Taylor. Even if there isn’t much for her to do, Lucy Boynton still manages to give her character some agency and is just as impressive as she was in the last film she did where she played a band singer’s love interest which is Sing Street. As for Ben Hardy as Roger, he effortlessly demonstrates his commitment to the band and frustrations with Freddie’s early antics.
That being said, as great as the co-stars may be, even an unrecognizable Mike Myers who has a small role, it’s still mainly a showcase for Rami Malek who gives a performance as eccentric as the band itself. However, there are slight attempts by the film itself to become eccentric as well and be more than just a standard biopic. At the very beginning, some of the typical biopic notes are being played since the film hastily shows how Queen met up and formed. Then, we get the montages showing their rise to fame and the slight setback they faced when the reviews for the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” came out.
As for where the filmmaking achieves its vibrancy, it manages to do so during the scenes where some of Queen’s greatest hits are being formed. Mainly because those sequences show how a song like “Another One Bites The Dust” would start off as a slight guitar riff that would lead to the formation of its disco-like melody. Granted, it may be the same story for every song that originates as a handful of lyrics or a small beat but the song creation scenes still demonstrate how alive the music creating process can be.
That being said, the best scene out of all of those is easily the creation of “We Will Rock You.” Once the band starts doing the foot stomping and the clapping that are used as part of the song's beat, the scene cuts back and forth between them formating the song at the recording studio and them performing it live. The editing in that scene is rather jarring but it’s still used effectively.
Along with Rami Malek’s performance, the musical scenes are a major highlight of the film and where it reaches its highest pitch. As previously mentioned, the rest of the movie feels like it falls under typical biopic trappings with its showcasing of the band’s rise and fall to fame. It even tries to squeeze in Freddie Mercury’s struggle with AIDS but that plot point almost ends up being a footnote.
That being said, Bohemian Rhapsody might still be satisfying for anyone who is mainly a fan of Queen’s music. Whether it’ll please those who are familiar with the personal stories of both Queen and Freddie Mercury remains to be seen. But thanks to the film’s aesthetically pleasing musical sequences and Rami Malek’s commanding leading performance, it still serves as an adequate reminder of both the band's musical genius and Freddie's one of a kind stage presence.