BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (11/2/2018)
Director: Bryan Singer (and an uncredited Dexter Fletcher, whom cinemaniacs may remember as “Soup” from “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”)
Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Joe Mazzello (the freaking little boy from “Jurassic Park” as bassist John Deacon)
My Rating: 7/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 59% (subject to change, it’s early still)
PLOT: A chronicle of the years leading up to Queen’s legendary appearance at the Live Aid concert in 1985.
There’s a lot to like in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The oughta-be-nominated performance from Egyptian Rami Malek as the mercurial lead singer of Queen. The music itself, sprinkled generously throughout the soundtrack, which delighted me to no end, and I’m not even a mega-fan. The absolutely perfect cameo (sort of) of Mike Meyers as…well, you’ll see. And, of course, Wembley.
The movie’s a crowd-pleaser. The audience I saw it with, in the sold-out Dolby theatre at the Vet, laughed in all the right places, and even applauded after a key musical performance. (Well, not EVERYONE applauded, but quite a few of them did.) As entertainment, it succeeds.
As an actual musical biopic, it falls a little short. We get a chronology of events, but not enough time is spent inside the characters’ heads to get emotionally invested in what’s happening. At one point, we’re treated to several shots of different people listening to a song being performed, some with tears welling in their eyes, and it’s supposed to be a “moment”, you know, where we’re supposed to cry with them, and…it hadn’t EARNED that kind of reaction from me.
It could be that I’m not enough of a Queen fan to get that riled up over it. Maybe I’m expecting too much, after just recently re-watching “Ray” (2004), the greatest biopic of a music star I’ve ever seen. To me, the movie remained curiously distant. It didn’t shy away from putting Mercury on display, warts and all, with his bad behavior and the drugs and the promiscuity. But I never connected fully enough to empathize with him. Maybe that’s a movie problem, maybe it’s a ME problem, but there you have it.
Don’t get me wrong, if you love Queen, you’ll love this movie. It scratches that musical itch. (And if you can, see it in a theatre with an EPIC sound system, so you’ll feel the finale in the seat of your pants.) But I, for one, learned little about Freddie Mercury that I didn’t already know. And believe me, I didn’t know that much to begin with.