My Review of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018)

Updated on November 9, 2018
Laura335 profile image

I am the author of three middle-grade children's books, and I blog on the side. My favorite topics are movies, writing, and pop culture.

Queen

Source

Introduction

News of a Queen biopic has been circulating for years, generating huge buzz and high expectations along with it. When the first set photos were released, the response was overwhelmingly positive, even more so once the first trailer dropped. Then a few days ago, the first critical reviews for Bohemian Rhapsody dropped, and the results were disappointing. These early reviews praised Rami Malek’s performance but rated the movie as a whole as subpar. However, that didn’t stop me from going to see it opening weekend, and not only did the film surpass my expectations, but I found it interesting that the movie itself makes a point of including a montage of bad reviews about the title song, which would become not only the band’s most famous track but also one of the most famous songs in music history. And like that song, this movie belongs to the fans who can ignore the historical inaccuracies and let the movie inspire them with its deep, personal messages and a dramatized retelling of history being made.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Trailer 1

Plot Synopsis

Bohemian Rhapsody begins with the formation of the four famous members of the band, Queen, and ends with their historical 1985 performance at Live Aid. We follow the band’s rise to fame, the creation of their most famous songs, and their personal relationships. Most of the film centers around the band’s front man, Freddie Mercury, a young man who had immigrated with his family to England from Zanzibar and is looking to break into the music industry by sliding himself into the lead spot of a band that has just lost its singer. Together, they use a mixture of talent, charisma, and experimentation to create a groundbreaking sound, mixing genres and techniques which result in relatable, catchy, and unique songs unlike anything else being played on the radio before or since.

Defending their music is a constant battle, as is Freddie’s struggles with racism, homophobia, substance abuse, health issues, and even his physical appearance, all elements that are crucial to building his status as a musical icon yet are elements that he is constantly pushing to the background in order to keep his music front and center. Like any musical icon, success gives him acceptance from the world but slowly unravels his most meaningful relationships with his band, his former fiancé, Mary, and his family. As usual, it takes a substantial wake up call for him to make amends and come to terms with his successes and failures in order to pull off the performance that cements the Queen’s legendary status.

An Ad for Bohemian Rhapsody

Source

Review

First and foremost, this movie is fun. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and it’s fun to listen to. Each hit song is perfectly placed in the context of its featured scene, whether it be in a shoe-stomping montage or a dramatic exchange between two characters. It's funny and dramatic. Sometimes you think you're watching a concert. Other times, it's a character-driven story.

Mainly, though, it focuses on the most interesting aspects of the band’s career: performing, recording, and songwriting. The songs themselves are already well known so all you have to do to make it interesting is show the audience how it all came together, and it does, from the recording sessions to private songwriting moments to trying to convince the higher ups to trust in their audience to embrace their experimental sound. The band is as well known as they are because of this sound. They are not a product of a certain era, fad, or genre. They are the product of, as Malek’s Mercury puts it, “four misfits playing for other misfits.” Yet, somehow, even the non-misfits can appreciate as well. That’s not an easy feat to pull off, but it takes a special element that no record label can manufacture. It’s an organic spark of lightning captured in a musical bottle that transcends all expectation. At the same time, it is interweaving these personal relationships, the good with the bad but never losing its focus that it’s the story of four guys with different musical strengths and personalities. They may bicker and fight personally and creatively, but they never lose that friendship and that magic that occurs when they perform together.

Because so many of the darker elements of the movie are typical of a historical musician’s story, it would have been easy to get lost in the more controversial aspects of the band’s history, such as Freddie’s drug use and AIDS diagnosis, but if this movie tells you anything, it’s that regardless of how public a person’s persona, they have the right to decide how people view them and what to share with their fans. Had Mercury been alive to help produce this film like his band mates, I’m sure he would have been happy with the decisions to downplay his more personal struggles, yet still include them to help paint a picture of what it was like to be him.

Reordering some of the historical events was crucial to telling this particular story and its desire to culminate in the Live Aid performance in order to encompass everything that needed to be addressed about the band’s history. No biopic should be taken as gospel. All films must deter from the real events in some way in order to tell a cinematic version of the story. Condensing 15 years into two hours is not easy so liberties have to be taken. Maybe had I been a Queen connoisseur, it would have bothered me more, but from a storytelling perspective, it keeps things tight and on track.

It also strays from the formula by presenting Freddie and Mary’s relationship as one that remains strong and supportive despite their ups and downs. Mary isn’t the typical rock star girlfriend who watches him rise to fame and then comes across as a victim of his fame or an anchor holding him back. Nor does it make her a pushover or a wooden, unrealistic woman. She ends her romantic relationship with Freddie but never her support of him. He is hurt when she goes off to build a life for herself, just as she is hurt when he comes out to her, but neither of these actions are ones that they can help. The film never comments on the times or tries to push against them. Freddie accepts the world as it is, and he learns to make himself a part of it without losing himself in the process.

Freddie, while exuding confidence throughout the movie, does hit a particularly arrogant phase of the film, which can usually be hard to swallow, but between the performances and the storytelling which shows his unknowing manipulation behind the scenes, it keeps Freddie likable and sympathetic, especially when so many other aspects of his life are touched upon to almost give him permission to be self-destructive at this point in the film. The warts are shown and then worn proudly, showing us that it’s okay to be flawed. Our flaws can produce great work that lives on after us. Those who live short lives tend to live them large, cramming their triumphs and failures into a few short years. This is apparent in the film’s climax which recreates the Live Aid performance with startling accuracy, but you’re really trying to compare the on screen event to the ones you can watch on YouTube. By then, you’re just a member of the audience being blown away by the show.

Queen's Performance at Live Aid

Conclusion

Whatever awards are in store for the film’s lead or the movie itself, personally, I just hope that this movie endures the test of time. Like the song Bohemian Rhapsody, it will be considered an important piece of art that teaches us to cut against the grain of expectation and to follow our guts in the personal, professional, and creative choices that we make, that we live life on our terms and that others come to appreciate that, if not right away, then over time. That sense of integrity is everything that Queen stands for as a band, and it’s a quality that we should stand for as members of the human race.

What did you think of Bohemian Rhapsody? Take my poll, and leave your answers in the comments below!

What did you think of "Bohemian Rhapsody?"

See results

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Laura335 profile imageAUTHOR

        Laura Smith 

        10 months ago from Pittsburgh, PA

        I'm sure I will because it's getting the Oscar buzz as well, and audiences seem to like it. I just don't know if I'll see it in theaters.

      • NessMovieReviews profile image

        Mother of Movies and Series Reviews 

        10 months ago from Moreton Bay, Queensland

        I can’t wait to see this. Will you be watching A star is Born too?

      • Laura335 profile imageAUTHOR

        Laura Smith 

        10 months ago from Pittsburgh, PA

        Thanks for reading! Definitely go see it if you're interested.

      • profile image

        Winnie 

        10 months ago

        Honestly, I think Rami is going to win the Oscar for his portrayl of Freddie. He played him so respectfully and genuine, along with the other three actors who played Brian, John, and Roger. Definitely a film and article to encourage the misfits in the world! Awesome article!

      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 

        10 months ago from Norfolk, England

        Oh this sounds very interesting. I've seen this advertised, and wouldn't mind watching this myself. Thanks for the review. =)

      working

      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://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      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)
      Features
      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)
      Marketing
      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.
      Statistics
      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)