When it really comes down to it, the main problem with Bohemian Rhapsody is that while the story of Freddie Mercury’s rise and fall is fascinating, the story of Queen as a whole is not. Scribe Anthony McCarten (who also penned British-based biopics like Darkest Hour and The Theory of Everything) is never really able to inject much drama into Queen’s rise to glory, which smoothly progresses from college gigs to the top of the charts in a matter of scenes. Mercury’s is the much better story, but again, that’s not really where the focus is.
Moreover, the involvement of guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor as both consultants and producers certainly impacts on the film’s overlaying gentleness, with the script dealing in half-truths rather than providing context to a man who was famously private. Still, you can’t fault them for choosing who would bring the man in question to life, as Rami Malek absolutely knocks it out of the park, offering up a tremendous performance.
In a recent interview, May and Lee explained why they wanted the Mr. Robot star in the role, and said that they actually saw a bit of Freddie in him.
“We kind of saw Freddie in him and we could sense Rami’s passion. The first time we saw him was actually in Roger’s flat. It must have been horrible for him, having us watching him for the first time. But we were really blown away by him and his ability to perform— he’s incredible.”
Continuing on, the Queen band members also praised Malek’s ability to capture all sides of Mercury’s personality, saying:
“I love the way that Rami has captured not only Freddie’s great power and ebullience, but also his sensitive, vulnerable side, of which there was a lot. You know, he came from very small, humble beginnings, as you see in the film.”
For all of the potential, the bright lights and the fist-pumping power rock anthems, Bohemian Rhapsody wasn’t exactly all it was cracked up to be, but thanks to Rami Malek giving a tour de force performance, it emerged relatively unscathed and is seemingly leaving most viewers pleased. Not to mention that a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes is far from the worst score in the world, and with any luck, Malek may just find himself coming up in conversation once awards season rolls around next year.