'Bohemian Rhapsody' is a love letter sealed by the sheer magnitude of Queen's impact on history, featuring all the classic hits for die-hard fans and a look into the band's birth, growth and staying power.
The film aims to expand on the smaller details of a musical force beyond measure, giving audiences a backstage pass to the highs and lows of Queen and, in particular, its lead singer Freddie Mercury. This is done in a number of ways. And done well.
'Bohemian' opens on the day of Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in 1985. Queen is at an all-time high and Freddie is preparing to head to stage. It's not long before there's a change in direction and suddenly Freddie Mercury is a young man working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport, with no idea what his life would eventually turn into.
Though the film's direction is not revolutionary, the story it's telling is enough to captivate the audience for over two hours. The music is, of course, incredible – having stood the test of time – and it's wonderful to be essentially a fly on the wall during the film's take on the creation of songs like 'Bohemian Rhapsody' (“How many more 'Galileo's do you want?!”) 'Another One Bites The Dust', 'We Will Rock You' and more.
There's a hilarious scene that displays the negative initial reaction to the song 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and it's brilliant, especially considering how big the song turned out to be. There are a few moments of obvious foreshadowing like this, and because audiences worldwide are well aware of Queen's footprint, they work well as an element of comedy.
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury is a win for everyone involved in this project. From the accent to his mannerisms, this feels like an all-round success. There's a particular line he delivers about how Queen belongs to its misfit fans in the first half of the film that stuck. Rami is also electric in the live performance scenes. Electric.
Also, Gwilym Lee as Brian May? Tick!
The rest of the cast is fabulous, too. Lucy Boynton is heartbreakingly sweet as Freddie's girlfriend Mary Austin, Mike Myers makes a pretty fun cameo as a record executive.
Long-time manager of Queen, Jim Beach, is a producer on the film. It's great to know that there are direct connections to the band involved with a modern re-telling of their history – it gives the end product a feeling of credibility.
The speculation surrounding Freddie's sexual orientation as well as his mostly silent battle with AIDS are addressed in the film, though they don't saturate it. He made a point of not explicitly labelling his sexual identity, and his defiance against the media when it came to this subject was pointed out in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' quite well.
What's really fantastic about 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is its ability to pander to super-fans of Queen while simultaneously educating casual fans about the many complexities of a music group that went on to become one of the greatest of all time.
You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll dance. It's a rollercoaster ride you won't want to get off.