Star – Rami Malek
My Rating ****
Genre – Music / Biopic/Drama/Comedy
Run Time – 2 Hr 14 Minutes.
Certificate – PG13
Country – U.K
Oscars – 4
Awards – 36 Wins & 70 Nominations
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The most telling statistic about the rock band Queen is Freddie Mercury has been dead 28 years! That does make you feel old. But Freddie left a legacy and who will ever forget that Live Aid performance, a more worrying 34 years ago! He was a true rock star and his pomp rock loved by all. He is greatly missed, a real genuine showman.
Films about gay men as the central character tends to struggle in the cinema. I could not bear the idea of Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger locking jaws in the Hollywood Executive cowboy fantasy and would not see that Oscar winning movie. Freddie, of course was openly camp darling and although never admitted he was out and out gay he never hid behind the bisexual thing the film portrays. A biopic about Freddie is a film about his sexuality at the heart. But it’s also about the music and Rami Malek portrayal of Freddie was well worth his Oscar win.
Rami Malek … Freddie Mercury
Lucy Boynton … Mary Austin
Gwilym Lee … Brian May
Ben Hardy … Roger Taylor
Joseph Mazzello … John Deacon (as Joe Mazzello)
Aidan Gillen … John Reid
Allen Leech … Paul Prenter
Tom Hollander … Jim Beach
Mike Myers … Ray Foster
Aaron McCusker … Jim Hutton
Meneka Das … Jer Bulsara
Ace Bhatti … Bomi Bulsara
Priya Blackburn … Kashmira Bulsara
Dermot Murphy … Bob Geldof
Dickie Beau … Kenny Everett
We pick up the story as it ends, Freddie opening the curtain at Wembley to do Live Aid as we then flash back to the bands very early days to see how he, and Queen, got to that momentous moment in front of 100,000, the then Farrokh Bulsara meeting a band called Smile in the back of a rusty Transit, what Queen were before Queen, and Freddie’s arrival. The boys lost their lead singer to another band and so the young and goofy teeth conscious Asian boy offers his services as he likes the band, a little demo of his amazing voice there and then to seal the deal.
It’s 1970 plus as the early gigs with Smile go well but not long before Farrokh becomes Freddie Mercury and imposing his charisma and style on the band, changing the name to Queen and giving them the confidence to make a record and helps to write the songs. With all their eccentricities on show after selling the van to pay for the studio time the group of young and intelligent graduates lay down ‘Queen’, their first album, which includes a rockier style, and the hit Seven Seas of Rhye.
Although Queen gets airplay in the U.K, they are breaking bigger in America so a tour arranged and a record deal signed and a management team put in place, Record label boss Ray Foster (Mike Myers) appointing John Reid (Aidan Gillen) their manager, his job to keep them on the straight and narrow, with the emphasis on straight. Although Freddie is in a relationship with a woman, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), he is fighting back other temptations in America’s gay bars and truck stops.
As Queen begin to go big after the release of Bohemian Rhapsody the inevitable splits show as the band becomes Freddie, even though Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and his guitar play as iconic as Freddie’s rare voice and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) on drums and Roger Deacon doing his bit on bass. But a new deadly disease is sweeping the community and it’s too late for many who never knew about it. One gay man in every nine gay men was diagnosed with AIDs between 1988 and 1997 in the US.
This film did fantastic money and for its $50 million budget did nearly $900 million back, the highest for a music biopic in movie history. Director Bryan Singer was smart and concentrated on the iconic music and Freddie and less on the homosexual stuff and time spent on the other band members and management roles. May, Taylor and Deacon come across as rather two dimensional characters in the film with very few filled our characters in the film apart from Freddie and his pseudo wife. Singer clearly made more of that aspect of his life to distract from the other stuff after some early mincing to hint at Freddie’s homosexuality.
Its good fun and uplifting and a cracking performance by Malek as the flamboyant but often lonely soul Freddie was. The film is all about him and everyone else just bow waves. It’s a little bit long at 150 minutes but a lot to get through. Also what gay stuff there is does not put red blooded males off from watching this the way other films do around homosexuality.
You can sing along to the songs and it’s interesting to see little nuggets on how the songs came about and how the lyrics reflect Freddie’s inner turmoil. Clearly this is not 100% accurate though and some characters exaggerated or skewed in the roles they played in the history of the band but it races along nicely with gentle comedy and pathos in all the right places, a fitting tribute to our Freddie…
Imdb.com 8.0/10.0 (390,543votes)
Rottentomatos.com –61% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 49% critic’s approval