18 Feb Bohemian Rhapsody: The Rockstar Movie That Caught Me By Surprise
by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
Bohemian Rhapsody — the biopic about Freddie Mercury, which celebrates Queen’s music — was not what I expected it to be. It was better.
But I almost didn’t see it. With so much Oscar buzz around Lady Gaga and A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody was not at the top of my “must view” list.
I love Queen’s songs: “We will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We Are the Champions” are regulars on my iTunes playlists. But time is limited when you’re a parent of young children. Going to the movies typically means seeing a cartoon with a Disney princess, angry bird or Lego ninja.
Also, I already knew the story of Freddie Mercury — or at least I thought I knew it. I’d heard the songs, and read articles from time to time about the lead singer of Queen who wrote epic rock n’ roll anthems and eventually died because of AIDS-related complications. But as it turned out, what I knew barely scratched the surface of who Mercury was, or his profound legacy. Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie, digs much deeper.
Fortunately, life often has a way of giving me what I need. And last week, as I settled into my seat for a flight to Orlando, there it was, in the Delta movie queue. Ready to watch.
I was hooked on the sweet, charismatic Mercury (Rami Malek) within the first few opening scenes, watching him slinging suitcases onto a truck at Heathrow and bicker with his dad before heading out to the local club to see an up-and-coming band.
Malek did a tremendous job portraying Mercury in his transformation into the person he was “meant to be”: from the lonely, sweet, shy, conflicted 20 something, into the dazzling performer with the multidimensional voice who wielded his microphone stand like a scepter. The portrayal was far from “boring” — Mercury’s favorite term for anything that didn’t push, or challenge, artistic boundaries. Gwilym Lee and Ben Hardy, who played band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, respectively, also delivered spectacular performances, as did Lucy Boynton as Freddie’s love — and best friend — Mary Austin. It definitely helped that the real-life May and Taylor served as creative consultants for the movie.
At 2+ hours, the movie is a longer one (I was cut off as my plane landed, so I ended up watching it again on the return flight). But it’s worth watching, start to finish, again and again. While Rhapsody has endured criticism for a few supposed historical inaccuracies, anyone who plays music in band should not miss this gem of a movie.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.