So…I saw Bohemian Rhapsody on a plane. I thought it was okay but not great. It was fun to travel through Freddy Mercury’s life and see him outwit his opponents at every turn. It was cool to get a look into how Queen’s individual parts came together to create a larger whole. However, I usually enjoy biopics for a more emotional journey with someone who actually lived and breathed those struggles. Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t live up to that standard and it results from a lack of attention to the people around Freddy Mercury. Rami Malek’s performance, though charming and engaging, was such a large focus of the movie to the point where it drowned out any emotional input from the other characters. If I understood and cared about the people around Freddy more, I would understand and care about their conflicts more as well.
For example, Mary Austin, Freddy’s true love and soul mate, was portrayed as someone who he merely called and said he missed when he was on tour. That doesn’t give the audience any insight into what their relationship was like. Especially when it was such an interesting relationship as a gay man married to a heterosexual woman. When Freddy finally confesses to her that he’s gay, it’s almost comical because you have no connection to Mary. You don’t know how weird and devastating that situation might be to her. It must’ve been devastating but the audience has no reason feel that way because of a lack of understanding of her character.. After they separate, their relationship becomes even weirder because of Freddy’s selfishness. He asks her to basically keep her relational duties as a wife, except for physical intimacy. How does the movie show this tension? She shows a couple time and you see Freddy become uncomfortable and awkward. The Mary character doesn’t really develop at all. This is the woman who snaps Freddy out of his drug induced rock bottom? What connection do they have that merits this? For being someone so pivotal in Freddy Mercury’s life, Freddy Mercury’s biopic barely shows a skeleton of what this person is like.
The same can be said of Roger Taylor, the drummer for Queen whom Freddy often clashed with. What did Freddy and Roger argue about? Was it really just that Freddy was late to band rehearsal a lot? Was this really such a problem that would drive Freddy to leave the band? Overall, the other members of Queen were not very fleshed out. There was an obvious focus on the music they were making together, but if I had cared more about these characters, I would’ve cared more about Freddy’s conflict with them. When Freddy calls them “his family”, I really didn’t see any grounds for that ideal from what the movie portrayed.
On that note, who the hell is Jim Hutton? Is he really this guy that is a house keeper and has a talk with Freddy one night? When Freddy decides to reconnect with his band mates and family, he seeks out this random guy he had a chat with once and chooses him for his partner for the rest of his life? I don’t think that’s what actually happened in real but that’s how the movie portrays it.
As a movie, Bohemian Rhapsody is adequate in that it keeps the audience entertained. There are many funny moments to share and the last Live-Aid scene conveys a truly epic performance. As an homage to Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody is adequate in that they play a lot of the songs Queen is known for. Queen songs are good so it’s pretty hard to mess that up. As an homage to Freddy Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody falls short. I usually enjoy biopics because they show me the struggles of another human being and I can feel like I lived through them as well. That quality and emotion are missing. I don’t feel like I know Freddy Mercury any better after having viewed Bohemian Rhapsody.