In "Bohemian Rhapsody", they will, they will make you vibrate, or not

adminOctober 31, 2018

"Bohemian Rhapsody", the biographical film of rock & # 39; n & # 39; n & # 39; roll over Freddie Mercury and Queen, it's much more fun than you can really think. (The movie trailer does a great job of selling it, but, um, that's what the trailers are supposed to do).

The problem is not really the star Rami Malek, who gives a fascinating and opaque performance like Mercury. The problem is that the movie has nothing interesting to say. "What the hell is that?" about"A secondary character asks in a moment about the band's new single, a genre called" Bohemian Rhapsody. "What the film is about, apparently, is a standard rise-fall-climb story.

If you ever hit your head on the dashboard of a car to the glorious operatic absurdity of that title song, of course, you may not care. (Mike Myers, whose character in "Wayne's World" popularized our love for Queen's rock-camp once again in the 1990s, has a brief, funny twist as an executive on a clueless label). And if you really are a fanatic, the "Bohemian Rhapsody" maximums can take you through the creamically great increases in bio-rock.

Most of those highs come in the first third of the movie, which does not dramatize the band's rise to pop glory as much as the blender us along the ride. Mercury showed up in 1970 as an immigrant child carrying luggage at Heathrow Airport in London and his nursing secrets dream of fame; His Parsian immigrant parents call him Farrokh, most of the British think he is Pakistani, and only Freddie Mercury is in his head.

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Not for much longer. Farrokh announces that he is the group's new vocalist, Smile, a neighborhood rock band led by guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee, fool and sane) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy). "Not with those teeth, buddy," says May, and, in his defense, it's never clear if Malek is wearing the Freddie Mercury chopper prosthesis or if he's wearing it. But then May and Taylor listen to that four-octave voice.

Malek has cut a curious figure in the TV show "Mr. Robot" and elsewhere, he can use his big eyes as lamps and his passive attitude to suggest enigmatic passions that are shaking beneath the surface.His Freddie is a weirdo but a trusting weirdo, dragging his bandmates while, according to this film, reinvents his name, his sound and his success.

A six-minute single that combines sand and rock guitar riffs and false multi-track opera arias? No one thinks it will work, Taylor's assembly overloading "Galileo!" About 42 times is rich, and even the other musicians do not sell themselves with what they call "Freddie". . . thing. "Forty years later, we are destined to laugh with a happy retro irony, and we do it.

It is when "Bohemian Rhapsody" delves into Mercury's private life that it seems to be hard, sticky and obvious. If you buy the screenplay of Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan ("The Queen"), the singer did not really know he was gay until the group's American tour, even though his wife did. (Lucy Boynton plays Mary Austin, and both the actress and the character are very good and very ignored).

The middle third of the film finds Mercury retiring to a London mansion like a glamorous Norma Desmond, served by a manipulative manipulator named Paul Prenter (appropriately named Allen Leech). The latter is such a caricatured gay predator that he just lacks a mustache to twist, and while keeping the star away from his bandmates and the rest of the world, "Bohemian Rhapsody" evokes a leather demimonde that is sometimes completely demonic .

(Note: Oh, to imagine what the late German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder could have done with this material, or what he did: see "Fox and His Friends", from 1975, whose plot sometimes mysteriously reflects the new movie. almost certainly saw it, since one of his closest friends was the actress of "Fox" and Barbara Valentin, a star of Fassbinder.)

Gingerbread fall scenes fed with "Bohemian Rhapsody" coke are plagued by terrible dialogues. ("Freddie, you've been burning the candle at both ends." "Yes, but the brightness is so divine." Edna St. Vincent Millay wants her poem back.) More specifically, the second part of the movie seems so nervous on how to portray Mercury's private life to a broader base of Queen fans, especially the group's American arena rock audience, which develops a split personality that undermines the spirit. Like the singer himself.

The film huffs and brings us to the end, at the Live Aid concert of 1985, where Queen really stole the show, unlike many of the acts, they had something to prove, and that "Bohemian Rhapsody" lets it develop almost The length total of the set. (Not "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", but yes, the mix of "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions", the latter the best rock anthem in history. that could double as a fascist march song.

In the end, we are left with good music, a central performance that never completely connects, and a series of spurious facts: despite what the film says, Mercury was not diagnosed with AIDS until 1987, two years after Live Aid ; died in 1991. In short, the film is a confusing and extensive experience, one that often delves into a boring and unintentional field.

Was the intentional camp perhaps part of the plan? The production of "Bohemian Rhapsody" was very complicated, since the director Bryan Singer (the films of "X-Men") was dismissed and replaced by Dexter Fletcher with two weeks left. (Singer gets single screen credit). The resulting movie has everything except one point of view. The fact that his subject was a gay interpreter playing the most direct audience is an irony that the film is not prepared to deal with, even if Mercury did his life's work.


Directed by Bryan Singer. Written by Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan. Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee. In the theaters of Boston, West Newton, the suburbs, IMAX Reading and Natick of Jordan. 134 minutes PG-13 (thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language).

You can contact Ty Burr at Follow him on Twitter @tyburr.

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