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REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody

Fred Campbell

Fred Campbell

REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody

Sometimes good work takes time. This film was 10 years in the making: apparently, there were changes both to the script and the main people working on it.

One scathing review I read said that this was like a film taken from a Wikipedia page. The writer particularly took exception to some of the lines – they were too 'cliché'.

I wonder what you will think. The film is primarily a biopic of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen (if you have not heard of Queen, it’s maybe time you did!). The lead guitarist of the band, Brian May and Roger Taylor, the drummer, are the executive producers of the film (the people who initiate the project) and it’s like their loving memorial to Freddie.

The film follows Freddie from the time shortly before he connects with the rest of the band in 1970 when they were nice graduate students (art, astrophysics, dentistry and electrical engineering). Freddie’s home life is difficult: his father is conservative and does not show affection for his son. He meets a girl called Mary Austin and they go out together and get engaged. The band scrape together the money to make an album and their rapid rise to fame follows.

The film tries to show some of the alchemy that comes from the very different four members of the band when they work together. John Deacon, the bass player, wears clothes you might see at the gold club but he writes some outstanding songs.

The character of Freddie Mercury is played by Rami Malek (Mr Robot and Night At The Museum) and there is a lot riding on his shoulders as he is central to almost every scene. He shows great commitment in his performance and I thought he was very convincing – the close-ups of him singing really look like he is belting out the tune.

Ultimately, Freddie’s life suffers tremendous highs and deep lows; he has splendid wealth but suffers profound loneliness; eventually, towards the end, it is touched by tragedy. The zenith portrayed by the film is Queen’s performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley in front of an audience of 100,000. The band had broken up but came back together shortly before. The shots taken over the shoulder, showing the vast crowd, give one a glimpse of what it must have been like on such a stage.

One affirming thing that strikes one is this: in what other country would a band like Queen have shot to prominence like they did? We Brits love our independent music of all sorts of textures and flavours. Long may that continue. It’s about music, teamwork, creativity, love, loss and much more: 8 out of 10 for entertainment and some goosebumps moments.


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