I may be a little late, but I have just got home from seeing Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic about one of the greatest rock stars of all time, Mr Freddie Mercury. The film doesn't only focus on the iconic individual, but the rise and fall (and subsequent re-rise) of Queen in the seventies and eighties.
While the film was largely met by bad reviews from critics, it seems every normal cinema-going person had only great things to say. Although I had already been keen to see this one, my curiosity always peaks when a film generates such polarising opinions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I fell very much into the latter camp of those who LOVED. IT.
Though I didn't appreciate it at the time, I was very lucky to be brought up in a household where class music was standard fare. One of my mum's favourite CDs was a collection of hits from the British Invasion - all Beatles and Stones and Donovan. Another favourite, not only for mum but for my sister and me as we sung along year after year of our childhood was Queen's Greatest Hits. I challenge anyone who loves their legendary music not to enjoy a film which gives insight to how these beloved songs came to be.
If the music is the best thing about this film, the casting is a close second. Rami Malek is utterly transformed in the role of Freddie Mercury and has generated a heap of Oscar buzz, a fact which everyone (even the grumpy critics) seems to agree with. Freddie's sister as well as surviving friends and bandmates have praised the performance, with Brain May even saying, "he inhabited Freddie to the point where we even started to think of him as Freddie." It's not just Malek who hits the nail on the head though; all band members are phenomenally cast , to the point that Gwilym Lee was uncanny in the role of May (see the two together on set).
There has been a lot said about the film failing to portray Freddie's homosexuality, lamenting the fact it focused more on his relationship with Mary Austin, who was indeed a girlfriend, fiance, and lifelong friend as the movie depicted, described by the singer as the only friend he ever wanted and someone he considered his "common law wife."
When telling the story of one so adored, it is impossible to please universally. A life as big as Freddie Mercury's could never be squashed down into a two hour narrative, and I don't envy the filmmakers who could do nothing but their best. What they've given us is a deeper look behind the face, the voice, the persona we know so well and made us love him even more.
I haven't been able to stop Queen's hits rotating through my head since stepping out of the cinema, nor do I particularly want to. This film is a beautiful tribute not only to one of the most daring and successful rock bands of the last century, but to a true queen who, though gone, is sure to live on forever. You're a legend, Freddie.
Watch the trailer here.