Bohemian Rhapsody ★★★

“Formulas are a complete and utter waste of time.”

I am not entirely sure what to think of Bohemian Rhapsody. There are a lot of times throughout this particular watch-through where the work felt incredibly soulless and vapid, just going through the motions of the standard celebrity biopic with none of the artistic intent nor meaty character drama that makes the best films of this kind so substantive and rewarding. This time around I found the least entertaining portion of the film to be the climax; a near-perfect recreation of the famous Live Aid set Queen played in 1985.

Everything about it just felt wrong.

I really cannot put my finger on why though. At first I thought it was the actors who offer no kind of spontaneity since they are completely restricted by the original artists’ movements and mining to a backing track. A lot of the musical performances in the film feel pretty static actually. I really enjoy the scenes of the band experimenting in the studio and the emphasis on creation and innovation that the band was famous for in its infancy but sequences of Rani Malek just mining to Freddie’s original vocals just do nothing for me.

I really wish there was a greater emphasis on where the art actually comes from instead of just coldly recreating it for the screen. The film is called Bohemian Rhapsody, the song that tells the sweeping tragedy of a reckless youth in existential crisis, murdering a man and wishing to end his own life. Where does this story come from so far as Freddie Mercury the writer and character in this film? I have no idea. Why is he such an innovative creative? Bohemian Rhapsody seems to be a character study without the study. 

But then again, maybe the real reason the Live Aid recreation falls so flat is how damn ugly it looks. The scene is so white and flat and clinical to watch. There is no sense of dramatic flair or style to the way anything is presented on screen in Bohemian Rhapsody. This film is really unattractive on the eyes. I blame Bryan Singer for this since he has never put together a truly gorgeous or uniquely composer shot in his life but I am surprised that even Dexter Fletcher brings next to nothing to the table here too. Rocketman has a lot of stylistic choices that are pretty effective and stick with you but Bohemian Rhapsody has nothing at all. It is pretty disappointing to think that this could have been directed by just about anybody. 

There are positives to lob at this as a piece, to be sure. The biggest highlight is the cast who are all magnificent. Rami Malek is brilliant in this and carries some pretty lame scenes almost entirely on his own but shout out to Gwilym Lee too who is perfect as Brian May. You could not have got anybody better for his pairing and I love that. 

Biopics are hard to pull off. To craft something truly great, you really have to know how to walk the line (😒) between being informative and accurate to true events and being an entertaining and fulfilling narrative experience. As much as it pains me to say it, Bohemian Rhapsody seems to fail at both, delivering a just entertaining enough watch that is notably less interesting than the real man and what actually happened.