I saw it yesterday, three of us went. We discussed the movie afterward over dinner. It is very undeserving of those 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: