‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ delivers stunning performances, riveting narrative

Eleanor Krugler and Allie Feitzinger

Any film containing the infallible music of Queen and the singular personality of Freddie Mercury is set for success, but the 2018 drama “Bohemian Rhapsody” still surpasses all expectations.

Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role, the film follows Mercury’s meteoric rise to fame as the lead singer of the band Queen, detailing his tumultuous personal journey and intertwining it with that of the group. It traces Mercury’s relationships with his bandmates, family and love interests, and how his behavior affected those around him as well as himself.

Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) exhibits his dramatic flair as a performer, accompanied by lead guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee). Photo: 20th Century Fox

Rami Malek’s acting provides heart-rending insight into Mercury’s desolation in spite of tremendous fame, as well as the singer’s struggle to preserve his friendships while single-handedly tearing them apart with his conduct. It takes an enormously talented actor to portray a heartbroken man pretending to be whole: Rami Malek is that actor.

His flawless encompassment of Mercury’s persona is most prominent in the film’s ending reenactment of the 1985 Live Aid concert. Malek mimicked each of Mercury’s exact steps on stage, expressions and arm swings down to a T — no longer imitating Mercury, but embodying him.

The movie’s attention to detail expands beyond Malek’s character, with each member of the cast resembling their real-life counterpart. The closest similarities arose with Gwilym Lee’s depiction of guitarist Brian May, complete with his iconic permed locks. Though relatively unnoteworthy as a supporting character, Lee’s resemblance to the curly-haired rocker is unmistakable.

Although the movie’s cast and costumes match up with the real history of Queen, the plot doesn’t always follow suit. The film occasionally dramatizes aspects of Mercury’s story for the sake of cinematic appeal and takes great liberty with some of the depicted events.

Aside from a few of these tweaks, “Bohemian Rhapsody” follows Queen’s story well. It reveals both the victories and obstacles of Mercury’s career while interspersing Queen’s unmistakable music every few scenes, creating a captivating link between the familiar songs and the untold histories of the band. The movie highlights Mercury’s growth through dramatic changes in jobs, hairstyles and romantic partners.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” may as well be an ode to Malek’s sensational acting on top of a riveting tribute to the life and career of Mercury. It is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing.

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

Drama / Biography

2 hours 13 minutes


Directed by Bryan Singer

Starring Rami Malek