Rami Malek secures a Best Actor nomination in Bohemian Rhapsody, out this weekend.
Directed by Bryan Singer (kind of), Rhapsody is the story of Freddie Mercury (Malek), Queen, and their rise to superstardom in the 1970s and 80s.
Now, this is not a “Queen movie”. If you’re looking for an in-depth chronicling of their history, look elsewhere. Spanning two decades in just over two hours, the film actually breezes through the band’s success. But that’s not to its detriment; it’s so that it can be a stronger study of Mercury. That’s its purpose.
However, that being said, one of the film’s strongest attributes is how it portrays the band as a whole. Singer and screenwriter Anthony McCarten make sure to give each member his due, and show how vital they all were to Queen’s success. The filmmakers show outright how Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon were each responsible for some of the band’s biggest songs, a few of which Mercury had almost nothing to do with. If there’s one thing to take away from Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s that Queen was not just “Freddie’s band.”
This is his movie though, no doubt about it. McCarten has written a character study more than a biopic. It’s the story of a man who exudes confidence and fearlessness, but who was ultimately terrified of being alone, and of the “in between moments” when he was left to himself. It’s the story of how he seized the world, lost himself in the process, and tried to find his way back. Singer focuses on this – on the small, powerful moments – more than the major milestones to show who the rock star really was. Bohemian Rhapsody is a beautiful, deep look into Freddie Mercury’s psyche that will hit you hard whether or not you already know his story. Because Queen fan or not, we’re all human, and we all have our demons. Freddie was just a man looking for love in any way, shape, or form.
Let me echo what every other critic has already said: Rami Malek is incredible. He disappears completely and becomes Freddie Mercury. The way he moves, his facial expressions, his stage bravado – all stunning. He put a ton of work into getting the mannerisms down pat, and it shows. Malek aside though, there isn’t a bad performance in Bohemian Rhapsody. Everyone delivers. This is one of the best acted movies you’ll see this year.
Side note: the decision to show the entirety of Queen’s Live Aid performance in the film was brilliant. What a masterful sequence. It’ll give you chills and probably a few tears.
Whether you’re a Queen fan or not, go see Bohemian Rhapsody. Again, it’s a beautiful story that shows every legend is just a person with their own hopes, fears, and demons.