Rami Malek rises above the messy excess of Bohemian Rhapsody

adminOctober 31, 2018

Movies about rock stars are like movies about religious figures: there is always someone who says: "That's not what Jesus says." I to know! "is Bohemian Rhapsody An accurate portrayal of Freddie Mercury, the extravagantly charismatic Queen singer who died prematurely in 1991 of AIDS-related pneumonia? Does he do justice to his legacy as a prince of rock and roll with a range of four octaves? Does it represent your sexuality in a way that is acceptable to all?

Who is qualified to say? In strict cinematographic terms, Bohemian Rhapsody It's a little messy Some of its scenes clumsily connect, and hit each hit of disaster and triumph directly, like a gong. However, if you have many of the problems we associate with "bad" movies, you have more irregular energy than so many good ones, largely due to Rami Malek's performance as Mercury, all the finishes with brightness and muscle and nerve. This is a film about music, fame, love and the distinction of the link of the moon between cunning and arrogance. There are also cats, floating silk kimonos and leather jackets. It's a movie for sensualists, not experts in quality control: you know who you are.

Before Freddie Mercury was Freddie Mercury, it was Farrokh "Freddie" Bulsara, born in Zanzibar, of Parsi descent; His family came to England when he was in his teens. The first scenes of Bohemian Rhapsody, Set in London in the childhood years of the 1970s, it shows how the young Farrokh made that transformation, with a lot of attitude and a few girls' jackets from the legendary British boutique Biba. The young woman who knows and falls in love with her, Mary Austin (played with charm and vigor by Lucy Boynton), works there, and delights in dressing him in velvet and sequins. How could she not? He is so fabulous, strange and beautiful, with his shaggy hair without style and his prominent picks, that none of the rules of fashion should tie him down. In these early scenes, Malek is more like Prince than Mercury, but even that makes you think about how pop royalty pollinates, through genres and oceans.

Around that time, Freddie also insinuates himself into a band, which will soon be known as Reina. In a short time, he and his bandmates, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor (played here by Gwilym Lee and Ben Hardy, designed to look miraculously identical to their real-life counterparts), will have international success, " Killer Queen ". The film shows them synchronizing the song in Top of the Pops of the BBC; The visual symphony is one of synthetic leather, nail polish and rhinestones. In the vision of the film, as in real life, Mercury continually pushes the band to renew itself: we see them recording the strange and ambitious mini-opera "Bohemian Rhapsody", their tape stretching harmonies and multiple tracks so meticulously meticulously maintained as The topiary in a French garden. Later, Freddie and his bandmates will have to defend the song before the unimaginative EMI executive Ray Foster (played, with a brusque luster, by Mike Myers). Success is already theirs, but they want more.

At some point between those early days and the dazzling end of the film, a re-creation of the amazing 1985 performance of Live Aid in the band, which, as the movie shows us, almost did not happen, Mercury changed its appearance, cut the hair and it grew. Perfectly molded mustache that would become his signature. He also came to recognize that he was gay, a transition that Malek sails not with grace but realistically, like an astronaut who re-enters the atmosphere of the Earth and finds the trip so rough that it barely survives.

Bohemian Rhapsody It's, as everyone already knows, the textbook example of a production problem, producing several stars (Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Whishaw) and some directors on the way to the screen. The final film is credited to the director Bryan Singer (who has been the subject of multiple accusations of sexual assault), although he was dismissed from the project in the last weeks of his filming; his replacement was Dexter Fletcher, who had been selected to direct one of the film's previous incarnations. The movie now reaches cinemas, dragging fate like a ghostly shroud. How could this thing succeed? From the beginning, I needed to serve so many teachers: the gay community, millions of fans of Queen and Freddie Mercury, all those who come to a biopic of the rock roll, if they do not say directly: "This is going to suck."

But Bohemian Rhapsody It does not stink There is a soul inside of it, and also some anguish. Malek's prop on the stage, cheeky as a panther, shows us that being Freddie Mercury must have been great. But his look reveals that it could not have been easy either: Malek's eyes are disarming to the point of being disorienting, like the grinders used by hypnotists. There are few films that explore what can happen when a gay man falls in love with a woman; I do not mean a false and happy conversion story forever, but one that deals with the implosion of romantic dreams on both sides. Here, it is as if Malek were channeling Mercury's deepest secrets: his hidden shyness, his feelings of isolation, his reluctance to accept his sexuality. Even after Freddie and Mary separate, she recognizes the truth before he does, saying, "Freddie, you're gay!" He insists that he wants her in his life, placing her in an apartment next door. Luxurious London pillow. At night he looks at his window; as Malek plays the moment, it is not the sexual yearning that Freddie feels, but a raw and indefinable loneliness that goes beyond human desire. It is never easy to leave, but there was a time when the support systems were less, and we did not have many words to explain who we loved and why, and it is not necessary to explain any of that. Malek transmits all that with his restless electrical intensity. And the sequence in which he finds out that he has AIDS is a quiet wonder.

There is also debauchery and excess of rock star in Bohemian Rhapsody, because that is also part of the Mercury story. But the film ends in its natural place, not with the death of Mercury, but with that spectacular recreation of Live Aid. Malek insinuates the songs, although in the end what we hear is a mixture of the voice of Mercury and that of the Canadian singer Marc Martel, and the sound is magnificent. Malek-as-Mercury wanders from one end of the stage to the other, his arms shake a storm in the air that surrounds him; This performance is superbly carnal in his physique. As wonderful as the way the audience moves, in undulating waves, in response to him, as if they were a sea of ​​iron filings and he has magnets at the tips of his fingers. That was the kind of magic that Freddie Mercury could work with a crowd, captured perfectly in this imperfect film, one that exists almost against all odds. But then, what is rock & # 39; n'roll if it is not a language of random errors? Sometimes, the folded note, which starts as one thing and ends with another, is the one that sounds good.

Contact the TIME editors about this story at editors@time.com.

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