"Bohemian Rhapsody" Movie Review

Updated on January 3, 2020
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

Bohemian Rhapsody
Bohemian Rhapsody | Source

“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”

The opening lines of Queen’s iconic song cut to the heart of what is right and what is wrong with the band’s new namesake biopic, directed most of the way by Bryan Singer and finished by the uncredited Dexter Fletcher (who came on after Singer’s firing over creative differences). While what the film gets right is often moving and often insightful stuff, what’s wrong (or omitted entirely) keeps Bohemian Rhapsody from going down as an unqualified success.

The first thing that’s right is the electric presence of the outstanding Rami Malek as frontman Freddie Mercury. Growing a mustache and jamming prosthetic teeth into his mouth were the easy part. What sets Malek apart among acting performances this year is how he channels Mercury (and his truly one-of-a-kind carriage and mannerisms) without ever making it feel like mimicry. And though Mercury is most recognized through his life on the stage, Malek offers a heartfelt and often devastating look at the entire man, plentiful warts and all.

After a pre-Live Aid prelude, Bohemian Rhapsody kicks off in 1970, when young Farrokh Bulsara (Malek) goes to a London club to hear the band Smile, which includes Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy). After the lead singer quits, Farrokh (having not yet adopted his stage name) auditions for the band on the spot and is chosen to be the new frontman.

The chemistry between the bandmates is apparent from the get-go, with each—including bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello), who comes on board shortly after—contributing equally in the band’s infancy. And though it’s fun to see the iconic songs “Keep Yourself Alive”, “Killer Queen”, and the epic “Bohemian Rhapsody” performed once again, the movie skimps on the creative process, giving just a taste of what one can only imagine were real-life bits of magic.

As Mercury fosters his relationship with Mary Austin (a mesmerizing Lucy Boyton) and copes with his conservative parents, the band gets more and more popular. And at every step of the way, Malek shepherds the film with a powerful, multi-layered performance, bringing us into Mercury’s mind like never before, providing a strong, clear sense of the tortured man behind the band.

There are plenty of fun moments along the way, too, including every scene with a barely recognizable Mike Meyers as EMI record executive Ray Foster, who offers up perhaps the best meta-humor moment of the decade. There’s also sneaky-good work on display from Allen Leach as Mercury’s manager Paul Prenter and also by Aidan Gillen and Tom Hollander as the band’s successive managers.

Aside from liberties with the timeline (some of which are so flagrant they will make true Queen fans burst a blood vessel), the film unfortunately glosses over much of Mercury’s private life, only barely scratching the surface of his lifelong struggle with his internal demons, including his conflicted sexuality and his debaucherous days and nights.

Screenwriter Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour) obviously only had so much time with which to work, and, frankly, it’s Queen’s musical legacy that is the most important, so that’s what ends up shining brightest in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Even though it’s difficult to leave the theater without feeling like a more honest and comprehensive film was left on the editing room floor, the finale—a near perfect recreation of the band’s famous Live Aid set—only serves to strengthen the band’s standing as one of the best of all time while ending the movie with a genuine stand-up-and-cheer moment. It’s real life and fantasy rolled into one, with a heck of a killer soundtrack.


4/5 stars

'Bohemian Rhapsody' trailer


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)