“A Little Confidence” a review of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Nathan H. Box
Recommendation: 4/5 Stars, SHOWTIME
Director: Bryan Singer, Writers: Anthony McCarten, Peter Morgan, Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee
Plot: “The story of the legendary rock band, Queen, and lead singer, Freddie Mercury, leading up to their famous performance at Live Aid (1985).” -IMDB
Review: “Ray” and “Walk the Line” created a formula for the modern-day music bio picture. This formula is pretty clear. Step 1. Take one individual destined for greatness. Step 2. Give him/her impossible odds. Step 3. Have him/her form a tenuous bond with other people of great talent. Step 4. Have the whole thing fall apart in a blaze of unrealized glory. Step 5. Bring it all together before it is too late. Following the formula, “Bohemian Rhapsody” doesn’t deviate much, but it does begin with a man consumed with confidence.
What separates Freddie Mercury from the likes of Ray Charles or Johnny Cash may seem obvious, but it is this separation that makes this film worth seeing. Since we possess the luxury of time, we know Freddie, who is played by Rami Malek serving as a true embodiment of the character, spent much of his life denying who he really was. His sexual orientation for us is not a matter of if, but when. This is the true drama of this movie. The music is secondary because it is presented in a meteoric fashion and without much adversity.
As Freddie and Queen’s fame grows, life becomes more difficult and lonely. This reality sews division in the band. What was once so important, brotherhood, creativity, and art take a backseat to ego and self-doubt. It is this section of the film which is the most formulaic. It is also this portion of the movie that keeps it from being a truly great film due to its predictability. At times, it can feel like a VH1 “Behind the Music” special and not the character analysis it should be.
As we draw toward the end of the film, the band is on a break and Freddie is recording another solo album. He is lost and uninspired. The people who surround him our soul suckers and moochers of fame. They appear to love what Freddie Mercury can provide and not much else. Thanks to a visit from his past, Freddie is pulled from this life and finds his way back to where he should have always been. It is here that the great drama of the film is solved. Once the fog clears, he finds there is enough true love standing around him to suffice. Thanks to some careful coaxing the band reassembles for Live Aid. What is carefully neglected as the film ends is not the fact that Freddie was HIV+ and would soon be diagnosed with AIDS. What is missing is the impact that such a diagnosis had on him, his family, and the public conversation. If we would have been allowed to see that conversation, we would be talking about a truly great film.
Be good to each other,
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