“I decide who I am,” says Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) to his father. “I want to be what I was born to be — a performer.” His conservative father (Ace Bhatti) disapproves of Freddie’s pop music career: “You’re not getting anywhere — pretending to be someone you’re not.” That’s the setup for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” musical biopic in which Freddie Mercury achieves fame as Queen’s extraordinary front man but, as his father predicts, appears never to clearly understand who he really is.
Can Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and Freddie’s show-biz marriage survive? Can the four members of Queen stay together? Will you be entertained by this concert/bio-pic? I was.
Emmy-winner Rami Malek delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as Queen’s amazing vocal front man, Freddie Mercury, nee Farrokh Bulsara, born of Parsi parents in Zanzibar and educated in India. His family moved to England when Freddie was 17. By 1971, he’d joined the three members of boy-band Queen — Roger Taylor, Brian May, John Deacon (Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee, Joseph Mazzello). Soon, their spectacular career was launched, thanks to managers John Reid (Aidan Gillen) and Jim Beach (Tom Hollander), whom Freddie names “Miami” Beach. Mike Myers is nay-sayer Ray Foster, who predicts — wrongly — “If you’re not careful, by the end of the year, no one will know the name ‘Queen.’”
Others in the large cast include Lucy Boynton as Freddie’s long-suffering wife Mary Austin. She objects to Freddie’s boyfriends Paul Prenter (Allen Leech) and Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker). Meneka Das and Ace Bhatti are Freddie’s devoted mother and doubtful father.
The song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (6 minutes long), was released on the 1970s album “A Night at the Opera,” but, I confess, I couldn’t have told you that before I watched the movie. Still, I found directors Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher’s bio-pic compelling, following Freddie Mercury’s mercurial on-stage success and off-stage sexual confusion. “You’re gay, Freddie,” says wife Mary. “I think I’m bisexual,” says Freddie. What we get from the film is the chart-topping success of Queen — and Freddie — culminating at the huge Live Aid concert in 1985. What we don’t get is much insight into Freddie’s inner life. Does he know who he is? Or is his father right: “You’re pretending to be someone you’re not”? Freddie doesn’t seem to know.
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language, “Bohemian Rhapsody” runs 134 minutes. Despite its rating, it’s for older teens and adults.
Seventies juke-box flick —
Malek is Mercury,
Could he be an Oscar pick?