“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” These are the questions that came up in my mind whilst watching Bohemian Rhapsody. The film’s synopsis advises that it is a chronicle of the years leading up to the band, Queen’s legendary appearance at Live Aid in 1985. However, I believe what I saw was a Freddie Mercury biopic more than anything else. This is not a bad thing, however, let me advise you a few things to consider.
Although Rami Malek is incredible as Freddie Mercury, his character is the only one in the band that is shown as selfish, self-centred and lonely. The actor did an amazing job of displaying the character’s quirks and mannerisms, however I found the film to be telling the story through rose-tinted glasses as neither of the other characters in the band were shown in any negative light despite displaying somewhat frustrated bickering that many friends often have. I daresay that the film even at some points of the plot line paint Mercury as a villain. Not only is this quite unbelievable (that Freddie was the only one at fault for the ‘problems’ in the band), but it is extremely one dimensional, disrespectful and dangerous to the great frontman’s legacy.
The costuming department really nailed the brief with Freddie’s outfits from all his performances. With the Live Aid concert scene, although somewhat odd at first with Rami Malek shown lip-synching, it makes complete sense as it is not necessary to cover music that is already brilliant and showcases the talents of Freddie Mercury’s incredible, one-of-a-kind voice.
While the film does tell of true events, they aren’t in the chronological order of how and when these events occurred making the film historically inaccurate. Mercury was not diagnosed with AIDS until two years after the events of Live Aid. The way the story plays out on film along with the manipulation of true events practically changes this whole true story into make-believe.
What I like about Bohemian Rhapsody is that it shows so much of Freddie Mercury’s internal struggles and pain, you really feel for him. I’m not going to lie, I was moved. In fact, I am a massive Queen fan. I’m not just saying that either. If I could go back in time, I would go back to when Freddie was alive so I could hear him sing live and see him with my own eyes. Unfortunately, time travel isn’t a thing yet, so this film is the next best thing. And although I did enjoy the film, I did with an understanding that Bohemian Rhapsody is neither a documentary nor factual. If you had your friends retelling your life story long after you were dead, I am certain that there would be a lot that they’d leave out too, whether it be intentional or non-intentional.
I would have liked to have seen the film dive deeper into Mercury’s battle with AIDS and the true legacy that he left behind, however as the remaining members of Queen are behind this film, it seems Bohemian Rhapsody purposely just scratches the surface, sugar-coats the truth and only shows you the things that they want you to see.
“Is this the real life?” Not really. “Is this just fantasy?” A lot of it, yes. Does it matter? I believe it does. This isn’t a fictional story with made up characters. The people are real. This is a real man’s legacy. Sadly, the truth isn’t evident in this film as the entire story has been warped. If you want to enjoy a nice music movie, you’ll like Bohemian Rhapsody. I really did enjoy watching it. But I really want you to know and understand – this isn’t how it happened. This is how I believe Queen would have liked it to happen. But you can’t change the past, although the film does try to rewrite it. Does the film do Freddie Mercury justice? I would say no. If you want the truth, the music records by Queen will be the closest thing to it. At least when listening to the records, you’d be hearing from the man himself and not from anyone else how he felt, how he was or should have been.