The film is a great story about Mercury’s experience as the lead singer of Queen but falls short of biographing Freddie Mercury’s early years and much of his life after the band’s infamous Live Aid performance.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a bit like the song – long, juxtaposing, glamourous, fun, harrowing at times and quite wonderful.
We are introduced to Freddie, brilliantly played by Rami Malek, while he is still Farrokh Bulsara.
He is a baggage attendant at Heathrow airport who lives with his Parsi family, dodging his disappointed father to get out of the door and watch live music.
He meets a band that has just lost their lead singer and boldly shows off his four-octave range in a parking lot.
The band sells their van to make an album where music legend John Reid finds them playfully experimenting with a combination and obscure object in the studio.
The only glamour in the beginning of the film are his sparkly, skin-tight outfits.
The shift to pixels of full-on glamour and light that accessorise the band’s rise to fame is stark.
Suddenly the same big-toothed, gawky baggage attendant is the shirtless, crowned queen that trots around his mansion.
We also see Freddie grappling with his Parsi identity and his sexuality from the get go.
Freddie tries to distract the band members from the childhood album his mum is showing them in an awkward and loud piano outburst.
This is when he announces his name change and we see his dedication to his assimilation into British culture.
The film also does not shy away from the complexity of relationships.
Watching Freddie’s relationship with his wife Mary is inspiring, beautiful, and heartbreaking.
The film flirts with his sexuality with the countless suggestive glances between him and other men but comes to its uncomfortable crescendo when Mary confronts him.
He tells her that he’s bisexual and she sternly corrects him that he’s gay.
The first man we see Freddie Mercury kiss is his later career manager, Paul Prenter.
Paul is the perfect villain; devious, cunning, manipulative and malicious.
Paul isolates Freddie from John Reid, the band, Mary, England, and even his music, creating the push for Freddie’s plunge into sex, drugs, and loneliness.
The movie seems to accredit this ‘fall-off-the-waggon’ to his gayness and gay friends.
The film provides few nuanced gay characters and fills Freddie’s life with stereotypes that affirm everything the seventies and eighties thought gay men were – sex crazed drug addicts in leather gimp.
The only ‘good’ gay character is Jim Beach, Freddie’s boyfriend at the end of the film.
Freddie’s bounce-back from his episode is depicted with Queen’s Live Aid concert which is absolutely epic.
Malek’s performance as Freddie on stage is unsettlingly spectacular.
He floats all over the stage effortlessly portraying, more than anything, Freddie Mercury’s love for music and entertaining audiences.
Perhaps the best scene though, is not the polished gigs that only just block out the cinema audiences’ tapping along to the music, but the scene about the creation of Bohemian Rhapsody.
We see exactly how quirky Freddie’s ideas were as the band members hilariously experiment with sounds and pitches that seem absolutely ludicrous without hindsight of the song.
The film is too kind to his band members who uncannily handle everything perfectly.
They have no interest in parties, drugs, or sex, they know straight away that Paul is evil and they try very hard to be there for Freddie until he ditches them for his solo career.
No doubt this has everything to do with the fact that the band was involved in producing it.
Besides the boxes the film doesn’t tick, it is thoroughly enjoyable.
Other than the good ol’ stereotyping, the film is a kind of magic, excuse the pun.
You find yourself knowingly smiling at Freddie’s peculiar mannerisms as if you were one of his closest friends.
More than anything you are invoked with awe at the legend that is Freddie Mercury.