Bohemian Rhapsody: Rami Malek IS Freddie Mercury


#1

Alright, I thought this would be a good candidate for the “Theatrical Film Releases that don’t need their own thread” thread, but it turns out me and others feel the need to talk about the movie quite a bit. So here we go.

@stusser or @tomchick, is it possible to copy over the relevant posts from that thread over and we can continue the discussion here?


#2

One thing I never noticed about the real Freddie Mercury before I watched this movie is his teeth. In the movie, they make kind of a big deal about it, and rightly so. The dude had teeth that really jut out. That was front and center throughout the movie. So when @Skipper posted their Live Aid performance, I really paid attention to his teeth for the first time. And the movie totally got it right!


#3

I totally felt the same way, I never noticed that somehow?

I did look up some interview of Freddie on YouTube, Rami Malek really nailed the guy and his mannerisms.

I guess I should port over my mini-review, since I’m sure someone searching will land here, not in the other thread.


#4

Mini review previously posted, and an updated comment: This movie sits with you after viewing. You think about it, the songs continue to roll around in your head and you end up remembering small details about the performances. It’s like seeing a concert, and in a way, that was the absolute best part of the movie.

Previously posted:
I saw it yesterday, three of us went. We discussed the movie afterward over dinner. It is very undeserving of those [critic] reviews, it’s a good movie, perhaps not stellar, but as a fan of their music I was quite entranced by it. First, Rami Malek, holy crap he projected Freddie in everything he did on screen. What a fantastic choice for the actor to play him. Then again, I love Mr. Robot, so I’m biased.

Full disclosure: All three of us who went to see it are 50 or over. All three of us missed that particular time period between liking Queen music, and actually getting to see them in concert in the US. But also, all three of us very much remember that period when AIDS was an actual epidemic. When it was both a death sentence, and a period when doctors and people didn’t know how to handle it, or know how to handle someone with it. And though there were many before and after Freddie that died of AIDS, for me and many, Freddie was the face of it.That person you loved but lost, you actually KNEW who he was and that his personal loss meant quite a bit. So going into the movie, you know that it’s a potential tragedy. You know the story, you know what happens. It’s hard to balance so many powerful things of the life of that band with the afterlife of Freddie Mercury, the Queen superstar dying of AIDS. Those memories for many of us of that time are inseparable. They are the story. How can any movie balance all that in a couple of hours? Spoiler: It most likely cannot.

They nailed so many parts of the performances, the over the top stage presence of the band, and even the glimpse into extravagant behavior by Freddie himself, so much so that this movie wasn’t about the band itself so much as Freddie and his struggle with himself. The music and scenes with it were powerful, but so too were the ones of Freddie and his eventual self-awareness of his life and ultimately health clashing with his extravagant sexual behavior that distanced him from those who actually loved him as friends. That’s the real gist of the movie. It’s not a biopic on Queen, nor the song itself, though that takes a large part of it. It’s a biopic on and leading to Freddie and his death.

And I think that is a legitimate gripe for the movie. That it could not balance all of those things. Was the movie about Queen, about Bohemian Rhapsody, about Freddie Mercury, or about his eventual death from AIDS? And it wasn’t quite any of those things, it floated between them. Portraying Freddie with uncannily accurate scenes, but also only briefly touching on the band itself and how they were a group, when they weren’t spatting with each other at practice or over songs and lyrics.

So each person seeing this movie and eventually reviewing it is trying to decide why they wanted to see this. As a history of the band itself? Of the formulation and performance of their songs? Of Freddie, his life and death? Or of one particular performance, song, album or concert? It is none of those things.

And yet, we all laughed, we jammed, and even cried. It was a great performance, and you walk away at the end of that movie realizing how larger than life Freddie and Queen were and how amazing it must have been to see them play. I certainly wish I could have. My girlfriend and I came home and watched this full Live Aid performance afterward. It was amazing how so many of the details from this were covered in the movie, but man, to have seen that in person would have been even more amazing.

If you like Queen, or Freddie, or their songs, see this. You don’t have to blow a fortune at the theater, but see it.

And watch this:


#5

My older brother took me to a Queen concert back in '80 (The Game tour), at the fabulous LA Forum. They sold out four nights. I had to scrape together $8.50 for my ticket! The show was fantastic. Watching Queen perform Bohemian Rhapsody live was one of the best rock concert experiences of my life. When the band comes out to play the rest of the song after the opera bits are done, Brian May cranks the amps way past 11. The sound was amazing.

I’m so glad to have seen the band at their peak. I didn’t care much for their music after The Game. Hot Space was too electronic, didn’t have that classic Queen sound.

I thought the movie was really good. I did notice a bit of manufactured drama/tension, and some of the songs were out of sequence, but none of that bothered me.


#6

The movie also had this time compression thing going on where the movie starts and ends at that 1985 Live Aid concert. So it essentially has to show some things that happened between 1985 and 1991 (Mercury’s death) as having happened before the concert, since that’s where they chose to start and end the movie. His HIV diagnosis, for example, happened in 1987, I believe? Anyway, I don’t think that hurts the movie too much. I really liked the frame of starting and ending the movie at that concert. It really worked well for me.


#7

Whilst I really enjoyed the movie, I felt it was really quite “empty”. I think they spent a bit too much time showing entire performances, and not enough time on the musician’s and their lives. Ive always been a big fan of Queen, I even own some music books telling me how to play every instrument for every song on the Greatest Hits 1 and 2, so I guess I didn’t really go there looking for a musical performance, but rather a biopic.

Perhaps if it had have been 30 minutes longer I’d have felt a bit more satisfied about watching thing?

(Also, the performances seemed to give the tossers sat behind me licence to badly sing. I really hate going to the cinema – it’s full of people that aren’t me)

edit: ps, watch this

Notice how he both looks and sounds like Freddie! It turns out that to sing like Freddie you need to partially be Freddie!


#8

I also very much enjoyed the movie (all of were late 50s or early 60s). I don’t remember liking Queen initially but I quickly warmed to the band, and with hindsight I think they put out some of the most fun rock songs ever.

Which was part of my problem with the movie. I’d be shocked if it didn’t get an Oscar for best soundtrack, (although as I’ve said with all iconic Queen songs, I’d probably be able to make a soundtrack that would get nominated for an Oscar). So to a large extent, the music carried the movie, would I have liked the movie if the soundtrack was Abba, or Milli Vanilla. Not even close.


#9

The movie and flaws aside, how do you guys feel about Rami Malek’s performance? Nomination worthy? Uncanny but not good enough for an award?


#10

Very good,but not Oscar worthy IMO. The makeup team did a great job of making him look like Freddy. I completely didn’t recognize him as the actor from iRobot.


#11

I listened to the Fresh Air featuring Rami Malek today. Really great interview.

https://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/2018/11/21/669706989/fresh-air-for-nov-21-2018-bohemian-rhapsody-star-rami-malek

Now I’m going to have to track down Mr. Robot too.

It’s very interesting that the first thing they shot for this movie was the Live Aid Concert. And Rami Malek had to learn to play the guitar too, because they DID shoot the part from that Live Aid concert that isn’t in the movie, where Freddie plays the guitar. But that ended up being cut out of the movie.


#12

Jesus christ it’s so good. If you wait a month or two you can probably binge the whole series as Season 4 is supposed to be coming out in the new year.


#13

I agree with Armando. Rami plays the lead in such a way that the flawed parts of the character just seem … part of him. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t realize how much of that was acted in UNTIL seeing this movie. I’ve not really seen him in much else.

What might seem like a dispassionate young actor slowly becomes this brooding but deeply emotionally fucked up character right as you’re watching. It’s thought provoking, technically rich and a fun show on counterculture in a way.

But Rami IS that character, just as when watching Bohemian Rhapsody, he WAS Freddie Mercury. Fantastic role playing.


#14

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie. I mean, the movie is pretty straight forward, but Rami Maleks performance combined with all the great music elevated it way and above the standard biopic movie. And the Live Aid concert was so great I can’t remember the last time I left a movie theatre on such a high.


#15

Full disclosure: I don’t like bombast and pretension in my rock and roll,and as such never liked Queen and still don’t to this day. I have nothing against Mercury and give him credit on a technical level for his singing, I guess, but I would rather hear Louie Louie than We Will Rock You any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Where is that Joey Ramone biopic?

That said, I went to see it because a)it was playing in a new theater that had just open about two minutes from our house, one of those new-fangled luxury theaters with the reclining seats and beer which I wanted to check out, and b) Ruth likes Queen and wanted to see it. A happy wife, and all that.

So we went. And neither of us cared for it. Me, aside from not caring about the music, I thought it was cliche-ridden and at times full of shit (nobody was calling into Live Aid until Queen came on? Really? were they running to their phones to escape the music?). Ruth thought Mercury’s story was too sanitized, and she has a point. If the movie is to be believed, you get AIDS from going to parties and queening (sorry) it up.

Pfui.


#16

I’ve seen 3 movies in the last 8 days, and this is the one I liked the most. I’ve always liked Queen. Their heyday, their hits and even Live Aid mostly predates me as a listener of this type of music, but I’ve not really been into music enough to really go to concerts or pay attention to who the band members are or even the lead singer. If someone asked me if I liked Freddie Mercury, even a couple of years ago, I would have said who? If they asked me if I liked Queen I would say yeah I enjoy a number of their songs and purchased a few CDs back in the day.

I generally just wanted more from the movie. Less time skipping, more focus on the concerts, how the songs were pieced together… just more. I enjoyed they presented though and getting to see Live Aid re-enacted made it all worthwhile. Like I said, I am not really a concert goer, but after seeing this movie, it made wish I had been able to see them perform.

The cast was great… and not just with Freddie. I really wanted to see more of the band. Even the bass player which had very little screen time just, well they made it memorable and the fact he wrote one of the more memorable songs… just thrilled me. Yes this is Wikipedia information but they way they showed it on the screen, that will stick with me in ways the Wikipedia article never will.


#17

I loved the music and Malek’s performance, but so much of the stuff outside of that felt painfully clumsy and poorly written. The scene in the A&R guy’s office pitching A Night at the Opera and everything involving that Paul (Peter?) guy stand out as chief offenders. It’d be one thing if that’s how things actually happened, but it just screams poorly-written bio pic.


#18

Yeah Paul Prenter. They mixed dates around, gave the movie a more concrete villain by combining some things and moving it forward. I am kind of used to that in fact based movies and TV. I mean in HIdden Figures they combined sentiments and people into a made up character. In the Tudors they put two sisters into one. I generally don’t fault them for that stuff too much. I enjoyed the movie more than I expected too as someone who likes the music but couldn’t/didn’t follow the band or anything around them.

The critics aren’t really wrong and neither are you, it’s just the good outweighed the bad in my viewing of it. I found it just… engaging and I wanted to see more, especially of the other band members… ending basically with the concert also made me go look for the real performance… and yeah he’s almost spot on. Great acting, by all the band members.


#19

I mean, on the balance, I enjoyed it. But there was just so much that stood out to me in the moment as “this was made up for the movie”, even without me being familiar with the band’s history beyond the broadest bullet points. It’s one thing if you’re telling things truthfully and reality just happened to be narratively convenient. But what irritated me is that they decided to make things up, and then went with about the most cliched boilerplate option possible. If you’re not going to limit yourself to reality, can’t you at least come up with something more believable than that?


#20

I feel that way about a lot of “historical” movies.

Anyway, watching the two trailers and comparing them to the actual Live Aid concert recording above, I don’t really think the likeness between Rami and Freddy is that striking.