Chronicling the adult life of the legendary singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), Bryan Singer’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” enraptured audiences in the sorrowful and eventful life of the bold singer.
Though the film has many comedic and entertaining qualities, it falls short of truly encompassing the complexity of Mercury as a person and waters down many of the qualities that make the biopic of Mercury so interesting to begin with.
The film’s plot begins with Farrokh Bulsara, a London Heathrow employee, before he had adopted the persona of Freddie Mercury. Bulsara is depicted as a brash and independent man who has a desire to sing and be something more.
He then meets the members of who would eventually make up Queen, changes his name to Freddie Mercury and leads the band to become a success. Accompanied by the band, Mercury also begins dating Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and everything, for the most part, seems good.
Yet, as Queen’s success takes them on tour, he begins to question his sexuality and arrives at the realization that he is not straight. However, the movie never really goes in depth to this realization. The audience instead is only left with a vague idea of his identity struggle and is never given the opportunity to sympathize with Mercury.
Instead of focusing on Mercury and developing his character to become more accepting of himself, the movie instead focuses on Queen and only occasionally highlights Mercury’s self-isolation and struggle of acceptance. Too much of nothing happened in the first 40 minutes of the movie for Mercury’s story to truly be heard.
There is a feeling of dissatisfaction that follows watching the movie. Mercury does eventually triumph in reuniting the band at the end of the movie, but the emotional journey that it took him to get there is left to the imagination. The film insinuates that Mercury experiences emotional growth and personal development, but fails to actually show this change in character.
The theme of having a legendary lead singer struggle to find his voice is a powerful message, but it is never fully illustrated. There is only the vague idea that Mercury is unsatisfied with himself and that he feels alone, but it never becomes the primary focus of the plot. The plot, while trying desperately to focus on Mercury, falls victim to generalizing events and focusing more on Queen.
Despite the weak development of Mercury as a character, there are still many redeeming qualities to the biopic: specifically, the portrayal of Mercury by Rami Malek.
Malek’s portrayal of Mercury is the highlight of the film. Because Mercury as a person is generally well-known, there is room for concern when it comes to someone portraying him. Yet, through a convincing British accent and flamboyant attitude, Malek was able to capture audiences through Mercury’s wit and comedic charm. Malek, somehow, also looks uncomfortably uncanny to Mercury.
In general, the movie was entertaining, as a movie should be. There were many opportunities to laugh and others to feel sorry for the character. And even though there was a lack of in depth development of Mercury as the main character, there was still a lot of opportunity for engagement and investment from the audience.