The biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, about Queen singer Freddy Mercury is set to be released late October. There is great anticipation and buzz, especially about the lead actor, Rami Malek who many critics believe will be up for an Oscar.
As for his on-stage persona Rami Malek said he watched of all things Liza Minelli in Cabaret as part of the research. The film can probably also count on serious Oscar consideration in crafts categories including Costume Design and Sound which both excel in the film. At the very least Malek joins a growing number of performances in the Lead Actor race including some yet to be seen such as Christian Bale’s Dick Cheney in Vice, but this one will be hard for Oscar voters to ignore.
Malek doesn’t do his own singing – who could match Freddy Mercury after all – but does an amazing job of embodying Freddie Mercury himself. The film producers hired a sound-alike for certain portions for the soundtrack which will likely be popular.
However, after the release of the movie’s first trailer some critics were quick to point out that there was no footage of Freddy Mercury romantically with other men, despite the well-documented history of Mercury’s bisexuality. Malek has countered this criticism, saying that the film doesn’t shy away from his sexuality or AIDS. Adding that it’s a shame people have judged the film by a thirty second spot.
Although the film, written by Anthony McCarten and and Peter Morgan, addresses Mercury’s bisexuality in numerous scenes, the emphasis here is more on the music, the band, and its lead singer behind it. In fact, that Live Aid performance is played in the film as a mini-concert just as it was in 1985 when it happened, an interesting gamble that pays off big time.
The idea of the film is to bring a younger audience into the movie which would explain its PG-13 rating. According to the producers there were some drafts of the script that went deeper and more darkly into this area, but ultimately the end result is a movie that first and foremost celebrates the creative spirit and the music of Queen and Mercury.
What is likely to result is the rather standard Hollywood biopic film which, if the critics are right, would be mildly disappointing. This film should be a shoe-in for a Best Picture nomination, however, by the sounds of it, the film isn't deep enough. The film could be so much more, taking on issues such as AIDS and bisexuality. Bohemian Rhapsody should be compared to films such as Philadelphia, the Dallas Buyers Club, Brokeback Mountain or even Orange is the New Black. While Mercury’s life was tragic and beautiful, it gives filmmakers so many themes to play with and anything less is just a waste of celluloid.
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