Bohemian Rhapsody is a biographical film directed by Bryan Singer. It covers Freddie Mercury’s professional life as the lead vocalist of Queen, as well as his personal struggles. The film is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language.

Bohemian Rhapsody Review – No Time For Losers

Bohemian Rhapsody opens with a 20th Century Fox title card accompanied by a custom fanfare, a sign of rocking things to come. Still, in the bubbling sea that was Freddie Mercury’s life, the film prefers to cannonball, surfacing a little too quickly. While we get an exciting splash, it never quite dives all the way in. That isn’t to say that the film does a poor job – it’s an engaging biopic with a truly memorable lead performance.

Rami Malek makes for a fantastic Freddie Mercury, from the first time he takes to an amateur stage to the film’s end at the Live Aid concert. This goes beyond his dialogue – Malek’s on-stage mannerisms and his extravagance off-stage would be a great performance in itself, but it’s elevated by his physical likeness to Mercury. The spotlight is entirely on Malek, meaning he carries the entire film. It’s not an easy thing to do, yet he does so in style.

Instead of working with a choreographer, Malek worked with a movement coach to capture Mercury’s actions on-stage. He picks up on what makes Freddie a star, but he also brings humanity to the role. Malek’s Freddie Mercury is flamboyant and leads an extravagant life, but his issues with his personal relationships and the resulting loneliness is important. I’m thankful that the film touches on that, but I wish it had gone into more detail.

The most frustrating thing about Bohemian Rhapsody is how it jumps from event to event, especially in the first half. I wanted to learn more about Freddie’s early days and his music. It almost feels like Freddie goes from joining the band Smile to touring as Queen in a couple of scenes. Understandably, they spend most of their time on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, leading to a few humorous scenes with a record label executive (played by Mike Myers) who doesn’t approve of the song. Freddie’s conflict starts a little too late in the film: it’s hit after hit until Freddie begins to struggle with his lifestyle (and eventually HIV and AIDS).

Others will be disappointed to hear that in most cases, the songs are taken straight from Queen albums. When Malek does sing, he is blended with Canadian singer Mark Martel. I also can’t vouch for an accurate story, an aspect other reviewers have discussed in a negative light. I do see Bohemian Rhapsody as more of a fantasy or interpretation than a crystal-clear biography. Whether that is acceptable or not is up to the viewer.

The Live Aid performance is easily the best part of the film, and it’s the final piece of proof that Malek has truly captured Freddie Mercury. The look at his private life is also welcome, but the initial pacing, questionable accuracy and album songs may dissuade some. Bohemian Rhapsody, for all its flaws, is an entertaining biopic with a spectacular lead performance.

-Sean Daniel