"We need to be experimental," says Freddie Mercury on Bohemian Rhapsody, while Queen is recording her debut album. Clearly, no one said the same to the people who made the film. The long-awaited Mercury biopic may be named after Queen's superlatively innovative anthem, but it barely has a fraction of the arrogant grandeur or adventurous spirit of that song. It looks like a daytime soap opera and runs through the same progression of chords as every previous biopic. In other words, some musicians come together; they record their great successes while using a succession of unconvincing hairy wigs; and their fortunes rise, fall and then rise again.
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With a script by Anthony McCarten (The Darkest Hour, The Theory of Everything and other nonfiction dramas so efficient but superficial), Bohemian Rhapsody sticks to a structure that might have seemed cliché during the Queen's heyday, and It has been unforgivable since it was parodied in Walking hard But thanks to its charming and charismatic protagonist and part of the most stimulating pop music of the 20th century, the film almost deserves the review that was given to the most memorable single of the group, and that half-way appointment: it's "perfectly adequate".
It definitely could have been worse. The production was so worried that the accredited director, Bryan Singer, was replaced by Dexter Fletcher, so the finished film is much more coherent than it could have been. Introduce Freddie (Rami Malek) when he is still called Farrokh Bulsara. He has just moved with his Indian Parsi family from Zanzibar to England and has reinvented himself as a long-haired London club, to disapprove of his loving but conservative parents (Ace Bhatti and Meneka Das). It is not that the film has much time for family reins. After a few minutes, Bulsara meets a student rock band called Smile (conveniently, her singer has just quit). And after a few more minutes, it's called Freddie Mercury and the band Queen.
The movie is small and cheap, suggesting that it costs less than one of his albums.
Bohemian Rhapsody strives to remind us that the other members of the group wrote many of their hits, one by one, they are given the opportunity to say: "Hey, I have an idea for a song!" But they do not. do much more We certainly do not learn how or why they developed their unique combination of musical styles. Almost never shown separately, the members of the band that are not Freddie appear as a trio from time to time, fight through some heavy jokes and then disappear, leaving only a slight impression of who is who. From what I could see, Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), the drummer, is a womanizer and the one who most likely discusses with Freddie; Brian May (Gwilym Lee, a dead singer), the guitarist, is the peacemaker of good manners; and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello), the bass player, is … well, all he does is smile from the side, which could be because Taylor and May helped produce the film, and Deacon did not.
With the help of several managers (including two played by Aidan Gillen and Tom Hollander) and several assemblies, the band makes the family trip to the global superstar, but it does not seem so global or so great. Mercury once declared that Queen was the Cecil B DeMille of rock bands, because they always wanted everything to be bigger and better, but the movie is small and cheap, suggesting that it costs less than one of their albums. Where is the glamor Where are the famous faces and the spectacular getaways? Bohemian Rhapsody could, for much of the run time, be an independent band that scored a top 10 on a single.
Mercury going up
But stay with that. With all due respect to May, Taylor and Deacon, the film improves exponentially when it ignores them and focuses on Mercury. That is, when it ceases to be some decent but boring quirks that discuss the lyrics, and begins to be a stranger overwhelmed by loneliness, tormented by their sexuality and the intrusion of the press, and addicted to the pleasures that can spend the night. Away from the band, he calls his family, just as he had quarreled with his biological family a decade earlier, Mercury is alone with his cats, a gang of persecutors and a soul mate, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), which goes his fiancee to her platonic friend.
Malek looks more and more like Mercury as the film progresses
The emphasis of the film on this direct relationship has caused many complaints on social networks. Similarly, there have been complaints about the decision to convert him into a large public with a 12A / PG13 certificate, when in reality, his hero was so perverted that he could have given Casanova lessons. But these objections are not entirely fair. While it is true that Bohemian Rhapsody does not put much on the screen to scare family audiences, it does recognize that Mercury took pills, visited fetish clubs, organized the wildest festivities in the city and, after an examination of conscience, embraced life as a gay man. Mamma Mia, it is not.
It is also surprisingly affecting, in large part due to Malek's rich performance. Mercury must, for a time, be played by Sacha Baron Cohen and then Ben Whishaw. But Malek makes the paper his own: he seems to be possessed as much by the pout as by the presumptuous Mercury that was in public and the bad-tempered soul that could be in private. The strange thing is that Malek looks more and more like Mercury as the film progresses, nothing like it at the beginning, but almost impossible to distinguish in the end. And he has such a surprisingly expressive face that he can even act while using a huge collection of false teeth: Mercury may have had an overbite in real life, but in the film he has incisors to rival a cartoon rabbit.
Malek's best moments are also Mercury's best moments: when he strutted around the stage at Wembley Stadium, as monarch as his band name, for the revivalist of Queen's Live Aid career in 1985. The most Audacious taken by the filmmakers is to include almost the entire set. But by this point, they have earned the right to turn a drama into a triumphant concert video. Bohemian Rhapsody can bore you or irritate you for an hour. But, eventually, it will shake you and you could move too.
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