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Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)  

Review: written 2018

Satisfyingly nostalgic if skin deep look at Queen

There’s so much about this movie that screams out for a bad review. but I’m going to have to say flat out, I had a load of fun watching it. It isn’t the expose some hoped for, and verges on the hagiographic. Not a huge surprise, when it’s surviving members of Queen on the exec producer list. Starting from when Freddie joined the band, through to arguably the pinnacle of the bands success, performing that legendary set at Live Aid, it misses out therefore on the decline of Freddie, focussing instead of how he and the rest of the band defined their music and career path. While this framework sets us up for shoehorning in Queen’s greatest hits, the emotional drama centres around Freddie’s relationship with Mary Austin, arguably the love of his life. Steering the centre of the movie away from his homosexual relationships and later health problems may seem like a cop out, but it works well thanks to some committed and believable performances, not least from Rami Malek, who is never less than completely less convincing as Freddie. What is less than convincing is a script that is constantly on the nose, and never sounds real. You know that feeling when someone is telling you a story, and they are telling you the well-honed version of the story which has been told often before, and the language and responses and timings are so perfectly crafted, you know it couldn’t possibly have happened exactly like that, even if the events happened? Well, it’s like that – you know we are getting the gist, but it feels like a memory looked at through rose coloured glasses, and never quite like reality.

Put the hagiography and clunky script to the side though, and you are still left with an enjoyable romp through Queen’s back catalogue, and a really memorable performance from Rami Malek. The final Live Aid concert may seem to take a disproportionate amount of time out of the story, but when the music is this good and its shot so well, our nostalgia is so effectively stoked and we’re having this much fun, then why not..

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