January 24, 2019

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Rami Malek


Biopics. They can never quite seem to satisfy everyone.

Too accurate and the surviving people contest their portrayal. Too much artistic license and the purists contest the facts. A truly good biopic is hard to find. (Cue a hundred responses to this pointing out all the good biopics I'm overlooking.)

So here's the thing. Bohemian Rhapsody is a mostly enjoyable movie. It is not a good biopic.

First of all, the inaccuracies. There's just so many of them, some created for no reason. For example, the formation of the band. Why would it be necessary to lie about this? For extra drama? It didn't even seem realistic. In fact, it was so unrealistic I literally Googled it while watching the movie because it didn't seem believable. Which then, of course, made me suspect everything else in the movie. In short, it's distracting and unnecessary. If you're going to bend the facts about certain events, there damn well better be a purpose. 

But even then it gets tricky. Like Mercury's AIDS diagnosis. The way it was portrayed in the movie was obviously to add drama for the band's final performance at LiveAid. Except that wasn't the band's final performance. Mercury (and the band) continued to make music for YEARS after that. So while I can understand wanting to culminate on a powerful performance, it shouldn't mislead the viewer into thinking Mercury died shortly after that (which yeah, the movie definitely insinuated). Not to mention the complete fiction of the band breakup...

Much like adapting a book to a movie, this story will anger many longtime Queen fans with its inaccuracies. It angers the LGBT community with its sanitized portrayal of Mercury's sexuality. (Side note: in case anyone still doesn't understand, bisexual =/= gay. Portrayals of people on different parts of the spectrum are important. It's not that hard.) And it should anger anyone who's ever had to take a plotting course because the first 25 minutes of this movie are utter garbage fiction. (I nearly turned it off I was so annoyed.)

It also inspires. The one thing this movie DOES do well is capture the brilliance and creativity of Queen. In a world where every movie, every song seems to be a poorly copied version of something else, it's inspiring to watch four utterly wacky minds come up with the kind of music Queen did. They were absolutely brilliant at reinventing themselves, reinventing what rock and roll music was, and reinventing the limits of what a song could or could not do. The power of their music is on full display and it's what makes this movie worth watching. (And unless you are one of those diehard Queen fans or you know, alive during the 70's, you'll probably be surprised to find out they are the artists behind some of the most iconic songs you hear all the time.)

Also, Rami Malek. His performance is not to be overstated. Not only does he nearly identical to Mercury (it's uncanny, really), he embodies the role in such an incredible way. And to do it with those ridiculous teeth? It's a wonder he could even say his lines, let alone act through those chompers. If you do watch the movie, do it for his performance alone. Also, so you can Google the cast afterward and see how well they cast the thing. 

Final word: Conflicted. Much like this movie.

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