It wasn’t until this movie started getting mentioned for Oscar nominations that I gained an interest in it. Honestly, while I like Queen well enough, I had no interest in seeing a biopic about the band. I kind of figured it … wouldn’t be good. How many movies about real bands have been good?
Back in November, though, people were giving it good buzz. I heard that it had great energy and really focused on the music. During the last few months, however, I heard critics from Pop Culture Happy Hour and The Ringer talking about how Rami Malek was ultimately just doing an impression of Freddy Mercury–that there wasn’t much acting to it. In fact, they claimed his prosthetic teeth were doing all the work. (Those chompers really were extremely distracting.) Furthermore, they complained that the movie played it pretty safe and seemed intent on painting Queen in the best light possible. Of course, they were also critical of director Bryan Singer’s reported erratic behavior and alleged past misconduct. His behavior apparently led to his dismissal before filming concluded.
The Oscars seemed to side with popular opinion and declared it a “Best Picture” nominee. It didn’t win that award, but Malek did pick up a “Best Actor” trophy and the film won three more Oscars in technical categories.
Well, by this point I had to see Bohemian Rhapsody for myself. As soon as it became available at my local library, I checked it out. My wife and I just finished it, in fact, and, yeah, it’s a crowd pleasing piece of work.
If you love Queen music, you’re going to really enjoy this movie. If you like feel-good movies where everything works out in the end, this movie is for you. I won’t lie–I had a great time watching it.
But, with that being said, it definitely does paint the band in a positive light. They have a little tiff here and there, but for the most part the movie depicts them as supporting one another, forgiving one another, and loving one another as family.
There’s nothing wrong with that, for sure.
It also delves into Mercury’s homosexuality, drinking, and drug use, but rather innocently. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but it all felt very sanitized. Of course, this makes total sense when making a film aimed at pleasing a mass audience. Knowing Mercury’s ultimate fate, the movie wanted us to hold him on a pedestal in the end.
I’ve heard the critics complain that Jim Beach, the band’s longtime manager, acted as a producer on this movie, and that the surviving members of Queen fought hard to make the band look as good as possible.
That makes perfect sense from their perspective. And, frankly, as an audience member, I’m okay with it all. I’m not watching Bohemian Rhapsody for a history lesson–I’m watching it for fun. If they gloss over some darker moments of reality and create a little dramatic tension for effect, I can accept that in this particular circumstance.
The point is that one should not take this movie as gospel. It is not necessarily accurate in many cases, so the viewing audience should not treat it as a documentary. It’s a fun, exciting movie based on a real man, but that doesn’t make it scene-for-scene truth. (Rolling Stone has a list of mistakes committed by the movie HERE.)
Don’t let this misinformation stop you, though. Like I said, I found it immensely entertaining and have no problem recommending it to others.
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s Dr. Nekros e-book series HERE)