Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
November 2, 2018 6:22 PM - Subscribe

A chronicle of the years leading up to Queen's legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert.
posted by lauranesson (24 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Moviebob didn't seem to like it.
posted by Pendragon at 2:47 AM on November 3, 2018

I saw this yesterday and enjoyed it if nothing else for its energy. I'm not really a Queen fan but know the songs pretty well just from growing up in 80s England and the music side of things was done very well. From my point of view as a non-fan, Remi Malek pretty much nailed Mercury as far as I was concerned (although in the very early days I thought he looked more like Prince-era Prince). The Brian May character was spot-on visually as well.

Overall though it had the feel of a TV Movie and apart from Malek, the acting was fairly wooden and not very convincing.
posted by jontyjago at 10:37 AM on November 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

We bought tickets last Friday and then I read the Guardian review, which gave it 2 stars, so I was prepared for disappointment. I thought it was a lot better. Malek was rock solid as Freddie Mercury. Brian May seemed to get more Brian May-like with each moment. The only one I didn't think worked well was Roger Taylor. Songs were worked in to the whole thing very well and the Live Aid presentation was done ridiculously well, though it was a bit cheesy to have it as some uniting event. Sure it wasn't warts and all but it worked pretty well, with a focus on Freddie and the music, but enough of the rest of Queen to make it worthwhile. Well worth watching.
posted by biffa at 11:04 AM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I saw it with friends at the IMAX yesterday since we knew there'd be some good performance-perspective segments, and holy shit, that turned out to be an excellent idea. I absolutely loved it, and that was due in part to feeling like I was actually on stage in the moment at Wembley Stadium during Live Aid—not gonna lie, that was a bit of a rush, and it made me want to hug the whole crowd just for loving the band. It was an emotional moment.

I found it a really compelling film throughout. It was good storytelling and beautifully empathetic (if a little heart-wrenching in places) and just hit all the right notes for me. I'd say it was about twice as good as I was anticipating. My group of friends agreed, and we also agreed that the opening scene was just super great and set the whole movie up perfectly.
posted by heyho at 2:29 PM on November 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

I loved the Live Aid sequence so much I was wishing the movie had been brave enough to do the set in its entirety though I do understand why they'd cut it down a bit. Not a perfect film by any stretch and is often bog-standard music biopic but all the raves about Rami Malek's performance are well-deserved.
posted by acidnova at 7:46 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I loved the Live Aid sequence so much I was wishing the movie had been brave enough to do the set in its entirety though I do understand why they'd cut it down a bit.

They did a fair bit...

Really weird thing to watch from 2018 and realize that something like that couldn't happen today.

It's an odd film. I really liked the start (even with it's goofy just-so stories for how various songs happened) and the end with Live aid is just fanastic, but it's got a really rough middle which has justly come in for a lot of criticism for stumbling into a bunch homophobic tropes and ahistorical nonsense, and is all just a tad predictable anyway.

Also they play the Brian May written Highlander song for the scene where he hears what AIDs is, and..

a) It's from Highlander. It's very specifically about a scene from Highlander, the Sean Connery/Christopher Lambert film. That's a bit WTF.
b) Brian May wrote it and that makes it a bit odd for this extended sequence where Freddy and the band are supposedly not talking to each other.

Anyway, we had fun. The music is amazing, because they just used the music, so duh.
posted by Artw at 10:49 AM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed it. I'm not sure why there's so much grumbling about the movie, but I know very little about the band's biography, so. Freddie was awesome to watch. I did laugh at the changing hair throughout the years (good lord, Brian May's hair is huge). I'm surprised they got total nobodies or at least nobody I'd heard of to play the rest of the band.

Basically, the movie was about what I expected it to be, so I was cool with it. I loved the music, I loved seeing them perform it and put Bohemian Rhapsody together. That's what I came for and what I got.

I did like the Mike Myers irony casting moments, particularly his last shot sitting at his desk during Live Aid.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:40 PM on November 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

It's from Highlander. It's very specifically about a scene from Highlander

But before that, it was a quote from Flash Gordon...
posted by The Tensor at 12:48 PM on November 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also missing from the movie!
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on November 6, 2018

bowie isn't depicted....BOOO!
posted by brujita at 6:27 PM on November 6, 2018 [6 favorites]

I haven't seen it - and probably won't - but someone I know wrote this "Open letter from a concerned queer" about it.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:16 AM on November 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

I agree with the author of the article sevenyearlurk linked to. I expected some glossing over of Freddie's sexuality but was surprised and dismayed at the unsubtle equal sign the movie draws between those "bad leather gays" and his estrangement from the band and descent into booze and drugs. Very disappointing.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:24 PM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just saw it and liked it more than I was expecting to. I've always heard the music but have never been a big fan, so can't really speak to the accuracy questions. That said, I was super impressed by Remi Malek's performance, and watching the video of their original Live Aid performance in the link just above they pretty much nailed that recreation.

the unsubtle equal sign the movie draws between those "bad leather gays" and his estrangement from the band and descent into booze and drugs

That was not how I perceived those scenes, but I think the movie could have been clearer to remove any possibility of these criticisms entirely.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:47 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, I thought this was kind of . . . delightfully bad. It was nice hearing Queen songs of course! And I thought the casting of the rest of the band was spot on, but Rami Malek was really dreadful, particularly in the early scenes. Why they had him drink in his second scene on camera (drawing attention to his awful fake teeth) is beyond me. I thought there was something really convenient about pinning all of his "problems" on Paul Prenter (right down to implying that he'd never cheated on Mary Austin until Paul) and painting him as the savior of Live Aid when in real life they'd played Sun City only a few months before was definitely a Choice. And the CGI audience in the concert was super cheesy!

Also I thought the handling of his bisexuality felt . . . confused. But I guess all of the above is what I expected, too. Hollywood's gonna hollywood.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:49 AM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just saw this last night, and I thought Rami Malek's performance was a high point (the other band members were great too). For me, this movie was worth seeing for the performance sequences, where it felt like Malek actually transformed into Freddie Mercury, but not in a cheesy karaoke way. (I was a little disappointed to read that he was lip synching in most of those scenes, but I guess it would be a lot to ask for him to develop Mercury's four-octave range and the singing voice he spent years cultivating)

I thought the rest of the movie was a mixed bag. The script felt like they were just trying to hit every mark in the rock biopic playbook, in the most obvious way possible (I flashed on "Walk Hard" at several points, which is not what you want to have happen during your rock biopic). I liked the early/middle scenes of the band together, fighting and making music together. They had a real, easy chemistry.

The stuff around his sexuality was weird and disjointed. But I did think they did a good job of showing the tightrope Freddie walked, being such a huge queer icon who was also never out publicly and was ALSO a major star in a very traditionally masculine (at least at that time) genre, arena rock. Who ALSO came from a pretty socially conservative background and was, himself, apparently pretty introverted and shy in his personal life. (to that point, I also liked how they showed him being pretty awkward and lonely at certain points - it was refreshingly human and non-glamorous)
posted by lunasol at 9:44 AM on November 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

I loved the chemistry of the band members. I also felt the bad-leather-gays/good-straight-married-people dichotomy was a bit off. The teeth should have been dialed back 50%.
But all in all, I was really there for Brian May, who is my personal hero, and was not disappointed.
posted by signal at 5:44 PM on November 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

This movie was weak sauce and agree, definitely had a TV movie vibe. I get why some would enjoy the simple fun of the thing. The redeaming factor for me was we just saw it in Singalong Format! So that made it worthwhile.

But even if I had some fun, it was dumb and homophobic. Every opportunity for depth was avoided. What WERE those weird songs actually about? How DID it work to have these straight guys depending on this very queer guy to front their band? How DID they actually respond to him having AIDS (If you lived through the 80s, you know it's highly unlikely that a group of straight men hugged Freddy Mercury the day he told them he had HIV). This movie answers no questions, and doesn't ask them either.

The demonization of gay mens sex and club culture of the 70s and 80s was offensive and the idea that Mercury, correctly, settled down into heteronormative bliss was dumb.

I'd love to hear more analysis of this film from Desi and Arab and queer critics.

But yeah, if you are going to see it, see it with a theater full of people singing along.
posted by latkes at 9:36 PM on January 13, 2019

Wow, I did not know they played Sun City PhoBWanKenobi. I just googled and phooey on them. See, that would have made an interesting movie! Mercury was full of contradictions and secrets and layers of identity. So much actual complexity they could have covered! Plus, think of all the hot gay sex they failed to show in this movie! I want to see the x-rated version please.
posted by latkes at 10:25 PM on January 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

Especially after hearing about how this movie won the Oscar for most editing, I kind of want to know how long the average shot lasts before a cut. It’s gotta be no more than 2–3 seconds.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:13 PM on March 3, 2019

I guess it won for best editing since the director was fired halfway through and the editor had to turn it into a movie? But my favorite twitter Oscars joke this year (sorry I forget who made it) was that Bohemian Rhapsody won for Best Editing because they edited out all the gay sex.
posted by latkes at 10:13 PM on March 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

The quick cuts are driving me mad.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:08 PM on May 9, 2019

I was meh on the movie overall, but there's one tiny scene that stuck with me. It's at the end of the scene in the clinic when Freddie has clearly just received his diagnosis; he's on his way out, huddled in a bomber jacket and a baseball cap and glasses, trying to stay incognito. It's early morning and no one is in the hallway.

No one except for another young man sitting weakly on a bench, super-thin, covered in Kaposi's lesions. Freddie passes him, and he glances up - then does a wide-eyed double-take. And just as Freddie is about to walk out the door, the young man calls out to him, in one of Freddie's scat-singing riffs - "Daaaaaaaaay-o!"

Just for a second, the other man is reminded of something beyond his illness, something fun, something life-affirming, and he reaches out to it.

Freddie stops, hesitates; turns back just a tiny bit, thinking. Then finally answers with a quick "Eh-o." Meaning "yes, it is me" and maybe 'thank you" and "it'll be alright". And then he walks out.

That scene has really stuck with me for some reason.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:52 AM on May 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

This was fine. A by the numbers music biopic with terrific music (obviously).

Rami Malek's dental piece in the role of Freddie Mercury's overbite seemed to be the start in the director's eye, which was a little weird.

I did think the way they did the singing for Malek/Mercury was extremely well done. It always felt like it was simultaneously both live singing really coming from Malek and authentically Mercury. Looking it up, it seems they digitally mixed Malek with real Mercury tracks and live tracks by a similar singer. Nice technique. Avoids the imitation distraction you get in pics like The Doors or that Hank Williams biopic with Loki. Also avoids the canned voice coming from a mismatched body effect you get in Great Balls of Fire or La Bamba.

It felt like the movie played his sexuality as him being essentially gay but using the pretense of bisexuality and how it fit into the glam/rock vibe of the time to help him cope/fit in. I don't know his life story well enough or have a sophisticated enough understanding of the LGBT climate of the time to have an informed opinion on that. I doubt it comes off well to those who do.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:51 AM on July 17, 2019

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