By Ché Zuro
Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek, and Gwilym Lee in Bohemian Rhapsody
Based on the life of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the rock band Queen, this film gave us more than we had hoped for! With a great cast of characters, superb actors, and a riveting story along with the MUSIC, this is an important film to see for any music lover or anyone who ever liked a song by Queen.
Born in Zanzibar to Parsi parents from India, Farrokh Bulsara is played incredibly well by Rami Malek. There were instances when one thought maybe a shot was of the real man, but no, it was Malek, taking everything that Freddie Mercury gave us and bringing it to the big screen with gusto!
Bohemian Rhapsody gives us the humble beginnings of Farrokh, who changes his name to Freddie, joins a band as their singer, and wows the audiences immediately with his theatrical stance and no holds barred attitude. Defying what is expected of musicians and the "formula" of songwriting, Freddie leads his bandmates into the creative process of record production with encouragement to try different ideas, making a sound totally unique to Queen. It was fun seeing them in the recording studio experimenting with interesting ideas, such as playing a drum that had coins on it, and coming up with some wonderful sounds that are still with us today, thanks to recordings!
Malek succeeds in giving us the emotion that Freddie Mercury must have gone through, feeling like an outsider with rising fame and fortune, with opportunities offered him, both good and bad. The realization of his sexual orientation freed him, but also left him fearful and depressed while he then allowed himself to be used by people. We are in the era of free love, sex, drugs, and rock and roll at this time, along with being in the midst of the beginnings of the HIV epidemic, so we see what the world was like then. This reminds those of us who were around at that time period just how dangerous free love could be, and how we all seemingly lost friends, as well as beloved public figures, to this new AIDS virus.
The accuracy of the music business was spot on in this film, due to producers Brian May and Roger Taylor, both original members of Queen, and it was great to see the realism of the songwriting process, band dynamics and pushy record labels and management companies. Offers of solo deals behind the backs of band members plus financials of song writers and publishers is made known to the average fan who may not know the struggles of musicians, when all we ever see/hear is the finished product.
The actors playing the three other band members, May, Taylor and John Deacon, were well cast, making it feel as though we now know them. The band was a family, irrespective of their individual families. The connection these musicians made is the chain that made Queen the successful band that it was.
The scenery, concert footage, art direction, and of course, the music production was incredibly well done. Watching Queen in concert felt as though I was taken back to when I actually went to see Queen in concert in the 1970s!
Bohemian Rhapsody gives the music fan a great story about a great band that will live on forever. Another fantastic film of this season!