We have to say that this is another of those films, like The Greatest Showman, that splits critics and general audiences. The film had a troubled production history, with Sacha Baron Cohen, who was to play Freddie, leaving it and Bryan Singer, the original director being thrown out because of allegations of sexual impropriety; he still gets the credit though, even though it was Dexter Fletcher who directed it. It was released to mediocre reviews but has done well at the box office and at the awards ceremonies. now it has, astonishingly, won a Golden Globe for Best Drama and had 5 Oscar nominations, including for Best Film, and it was also nominated for a BAFTA for Best Film. Rami Malek swept the board, winning Best Actor at all three ceremonies. Most of the critics felt that this was a very good impression of Mercury, not an acting performance.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury, who defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound, their near-implosion as Mercury’s lifestyle spirals out of control, and their triumphant reunion on the eve of Live Aid, where Mercury, facing a life-threatening illness, leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music. In the process, cementing the legacy of a band that were always more like a family, and who continue to inspire outsiders, dreamers and music lovers to this day.
From the beginning, Bohemian Rhapsody infuses itself with the playful, flamboyant spirit of its subject Freddie Mercury, with a guitar riff over the 20th Century Fox logo. Films like this don’t so much require the lead to play their subjects as much as channel their spirit, and Rami Malek more than delivers. He is awe-inspiring, embodying Mercury not just in his quieter moments when he’s interacting with the band who became his family, but in the fantastic performances. There are few frontmen who had Mercury’s voice, his range, and the kind of presence that could mesmerize an audience, no matter how small or large. It’s no small feat for an actor to inspire even a fraction of that onscreen, but Malek makes us feel like we’re seeing Mercury once again in the flesh.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall