I really thought this was going to be a good one. A bio-pic of Freddie Mercury had a lot of potential. But the more I think about it, the more I realize director Bryan Singer took a great story and watered it down to the point of intense blandness.
There seems like a lot of material available regarding Mercury that could make for an interesting film. He was the son of immigrant parents who seemingly didn’t approve of his career, which compounded upon his feeling like an outsider. He was a closeted gay man and had a complicated relationship with a woman to whom he was married before he came out. He engaged in the kind of sex and drugs that we generally associate with rock gods of that era. And he famously contracted AIDS at the height of the initial epidemic, and his death from the disease increased attention on finding a cure.
Well what if I told you the movie barely addresses any of these elements of his life? Rhapsody acknowledges all of these issues, sure. But it never feels like the film takes the time to talk about any elements of Mercury’s life substantially. Everything is glossed over in this hard-to-place sheen that makes the whole movie feel unfocused and impersonal. I don’t feel like I learned anything about Mercury, the person or the character.
And Mercury is really the only character in the movie with even an attempt at depth. Rami Malek’s performance is good, but the lack of focus on any elements of Mercury’s life fails his efforts. No one else in the movie even comes close to interesting. The other members of the band are relegated to tertiary characters, and the rest of the supporting cast are either lifeless nothings or unremarkable stereotypes.
There are moments where the film distracts you from it's monotony. The cinematography is pretty interesting, with a few stylistic shots and angles that give Queen the vibe it deserves. Seeing the band put together some of their most iconic songs is interesting, especially “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You”.
The last 20 minutes of the film are just a recreation of the Live Aid performance from 1985. And while this is kind of dope, because it’s just 20 minutes of listening to Queen perform, the minute it is over you remember that you could have just watched the actual Live Aid performance on YouTube for free. You then realize that the only interesting part of the movie is Queen’s music and that you could be in your living room listening to A Night at the Opera and not in a movie theater trying not to sing along because you are surrounded by strangers trying to watch a mediocre movie.
I really believe that a documentary about Queen would have been better than this. Talking to the actual band mates about Freddy and the band might have added to some energy to this sloppy, boring mass. I was entertained, sure. But not because the movie is good. Because Queen is awesome and it’s hard to fuck that up.