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Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

Who cares what the critics say? For the average movie-goer, this will rock you.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Make no mistake, this isn’t just my nightly existential crisis. It’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” – smash hit of the iconic band Queen, and recently the titular song of the new Freddie Mercury biopic. The daringly creative energy of the film captures his ethos quite well: outrageously brilliant. Exhilaratingly emotional performances, championed by a stellar Rami Malek as Mercury, truly do justice to what would otherwise be just another behind-the-scenes look at an edgy rock band.

However, with any retelling of a true story, some aspects have to be sacrificed due to artistic limitations, especially when the Queen members on the production team’s main goal is to honor the late Mercury’s memory. Besides the walkthrough of the star’s life up to fame, the film is missing key factors of his essence, skimming over his AIDS diagnosis, his queer identity, and his Parsi heritage. But there’s a simple reason: much as filmmakers try, with a two hour fourteen minute runtime, there’s simply no time to truly portray all the nuances that make up the complex cultural icon. 

Instead, the film chooses to focus on the tumultuous glamour of fame and artistry, featuring montages of the band’s songwriting process, Mercury’s relationships with important people in his life, and of course, the spectacular performances of Queen’s legendary songs that carry the whole movie to its climax. Mercury was a passionate, electrifying presence whose story could have been told much more daringly, but possibly due to its need to be audience-friendly and to respect his memory, this film tiptoes around the unconventional aspects that truly shape his identity. 

Despite difficult creative limitations, “Bohemian Rhapsody” fantastically executes a portrayal of the legend that is Queen, bringing audiences to tears (and to plenty of hilariously timed laughter) with an emotional rollercoaster of the brilliant figure that constantly reminds us to defy societal standards and dream on. Whether it’s lizard jackets, inquisitive cats, or magnetic stage presence (performing the songs you can’t help but know by heart), Freddie Mercury makes us feel it all.