It can sometimes be difficult to find a good reason to make a biopic. Making a movie for the sake of making it isn’t always the right move – you have to find something to say about the person or about the world other than, “This is what they did in their life.” Bohemian Rhapsody is able to find that angle, or theme to have in the movie, and it is communicated well! But the rest of the movie is jumbled and all over the place. It has positive aspects that work, but it also has some aspects that don’t.
The angle that the movie finds is Freddie Mercury’s sexuality. It sends a message that it doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is, or what your inclinations are. You deserve to be accepted. Mercury spent much of his life trying to hide who he was because he didn’t want to be the leader of a social movement. But the movie argues that he didn’t have to do that because it’s okay to be who you are. It portrays him as being someone who didn’t hold back on stage and didn’t really care what people thought of him. This is the perfect time for something like this to be coming out.
It starts off with the formation of Queen in the early 1970s and follows the band all the way until their Live Aid performance in 1985. I’m going to compare what it is trying to do with its timeline to La La Land, so bear with me as I explain: one thing La La Land does well is to fill its first half with music, as most of that section of the movie is upbeat and positive. Then as it goes on, the music becomes less frequent. Bohemian Rhapsody tries to do something similar – the first half is full of classic Queen songs that you’ll want to tap your feet and sing along to. But then when it goes for a bigger emotional hit in the second half, the music again becomes less frequent. All this accomplishes, though, is making the first half seem rushed and the second half seem too slow. Couple that with some weird editing at times, and it can seem jumbled.
But the movie overall is a joy to look at. There is great cinematography, especially during any scene involving music. It also brings good humor and shows the relationships between the members of Queen, instead of focusing just on Freddie Mercury.
Overall, some parts of this movie could have been done better. Biopics aren’t always the most entertaining movies. But this one really is, especially for anyone who is vaguely familiar with Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody probably won’t be winning any awards (other than Rami Malek for lead actor), but it’s a perfectly enjoyable movie with a good message.
(I just want to add here at the end that I think a film should be judged based on nothing other than what’s on the screen. Even if there is more information out there about what is happening in the movie, ultimately, a movie has its own goals that may not be in line with that extra stuff. It should be judged by how well it achieves what it sets out to do, and by nothing more.)