In the modern era, the band, Queen, is a household name. Everyone knows hits like “We Will Rock You”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Another One Bites The Dust”. This, however, wasn’t always the case. Freddie Mercury and his band of misfits rose to fame because they never followed the formula. It did not matter what was popular, so long as they stayed true to themselves. The upcoming movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a heartfelt telling of Queen’s rise, struggles and triumphs, but is held back by major pacing issues and an often hollow script.
The story follows the life of Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), the lead singer of Queen, as well as the other members of the band Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello). As Queen’s fame grows, Mercury begins to discover his true passion for performing and realizes he was born for the stage.
Mercury also begins to unearth his homosexuality, something he grapples with throughout the film. His desires create conflicts both internally and with his wife and lead to a divorce. After these and other personal issues, Mercury breaks off from the group to become a solo act. This proves to be extremely detrimental to both his career and his morale, as he begins to lose touch with what made his music so special in the first place: the originality Queen brought to the table.
Mercury eventually crawls back to Queen, begging for forgiveness and informing them that he is dying of AIDS. Energized by the opportunity for the band to play Live Aid, the mega-concert to raise money for the famine in Ethiopia, Mercury reconnects with his family, reunites the band, and recreates some of their best moments to prepare for the concert.
The film ends with an almost exact recreation of Queen’s triumphant performance at Live Aid, which is sometimes considered to be one of the greatest live performances of all time. Mercury died a few years later of complications from AIDS, and the film addresses his death with a few final end cards, detailing how the rock and roll legend is remembered and celebrated. This ending feels somewhat bare bones, but overall, not out of place in the larger film.
The movie tells Mercury’s story with a linear but unadventurous script, and although the pacing was lightning fast at points, it reaches an almost unbearable crawl when Mercury has hit rock bottom. The main problem with the film is the lack of reasons it provided for the audience to empathize with Mercury: instead of celebrating his knack for the spectacular, the viewer comes to be somewhat annoyed by it.
The supporting cast struggled at times, compensating for mediocre emotional ranges with over-saturated, often cliche dialogue, but this also helped the audience understand everyone’s perspective, making the film about the whole band and not only about Mercury.
The film was at its best when the story focused on Queen’s music and the origins of their most iconic hits. Scenes showing the band at home in the studio were paced perfectly, contrasting the struggles of group decision-making with the beauty that comes with producing music.
While brought down by questionable pacing decisions and somewhat lackluster writing, “Bohemian Rhapsody” will be enjoyable to those who admire Queen and the work that came from their originality and willingness to break barriers in the name of the music.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is by no means a waste of time. It incorporates a mix classic nostalgia for dedicated fans and a darker side of Mercury not known to many. Malek delivered a stunning performance, but it can only go so far. However, the raw portrayal of the hardships Mercury provides not only a window into the struggles he faced but also illustrates that the lights of stardom come with a price.