Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury and he is sure to get an Oscar nomination for his performance. Bohemian Rhapsody is the story of Queen and how Farrokh Bulsara met the band Smile, a band that would eventually become Queen. Mercury came from a traditional Indian- Butish Parsi family. Farrokh wanted more then his father’s life, more than his father’s “kind thoughts, deeds, and words.” Bulsara meets what is left of Smile (the lead singer/bass player quits to join Humpybong). The band brings him in regardless of Mercury’s teeth, (he had four extra that made his vocal cords open more), they also bring in John Deacon, a terrific bass player. From the first club appearance, Bulsara is wild, does his own thing. He is flamboyant and has a rather aloof attitude to what people think.
The band sells it’s van to make their first recording. They change their name to Queen and all is going well, especially when now Freddie permanently changes his name to Freddie Mercury, meets Biba store worker, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton). He eventually gets engaged to her, but Mercury starts to realize his “other side” when touring in America. While recording “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he meets an opportunist named Paul Prenter, who would go on to be his personal manager. Prenter would become his lover and the engagement would be off with Mary. Prenter is from Belfast, Northern Ireland and a Catholic. He feels like the ultimate outsider in life and his overly protective of Mercury and extremely jealous of Mary and the band members.
Gwilym Lee is outstanding playing lead guitarist Brian May. May was the anchor behind the band and Lee portrays that beautifully. The entire cast is fantastic, in fact. No one over plays their roles, they all blend nicely and the two hours plus is very smooth. Well laid out, the cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel is brilliant as is the directing (that’s another story).
I saw Queen in the early 70s and again in 1976 at Madison Square Garden. I missed the 1980 concert unfortunately, as it was the concert event of the year. As I entered John F. Kennedy Stadium on July 13 1985 to see Live Aid in Philadelphia, people were talking about the show Mercury put on four hours earlier in London’s Wembley Stadium. As I watched and listened to Simon Le Bons “bum note heard round the world,” Jimmy Page wanting to kill Phil Collins because his drumming was so bad with Led Zeppelin, Collins himself shrugging his shoulders as his singing was off and flat, Tom Petty flipping the “bird” to producers as his “American Girl” was off key and The Cars with their usual lousy concert, I sat and wonder today after seeing this movie, “how great would it have been to see Freddie Mercury one last time doing Live Aid”.
Freddie Mercury died of complications from AIDS in 1992, but he left a legacy in the music world. Mercury, like Frank Sinatra, did it his way. He made no apologies for being late constantly to rehearsals, his sexuality, his flamboyant behavior or what he wanted Queen to play. Unlike many bands, Queen made it pretty fast. The band did not struggle to make it like other big time bands. Queen members knew that much of this was due to Mercury, his voice, his movements and his insights into writing songs. Band and audience members alike knew Mercury was one of a kind. We see it at the end of the movie when the bands plays the twenty minutes they were allotted. They were electrifying. How Mercury pumped up the crowd like no one else could do on that particular day, one last time.
Mercury ended his life with Tim Hutton, a man he met as a waiter at one of Mercury’s parties. He also continued his close relationship with Mary, her husband and child. He finally had acceptance from his father. He left this earth as Rock & Roll Royalty that only a few have accomplished. His movement and voice will carry on and on and Queen will not be forgotten.