Penelope Magnani hates and rates the acclaimed movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”

When I first heard that a movie about Queen was coming out in 2018, I was beyond ecstatic, I love Queen. In primary and middle school they were my absolute favorite band. I listened exclusively to Queen, knew every word of every song to my dad’s ‘Queen: Greatest Hits’ album and dreamt of singing like Freddy Mercury. Moving to Switzerland where Queen took permanence for various years and recorded six studio albums, only fueled my obsession. Eventually, I calmed down and as I grew older, my music taste changed a million times, but now at the age of nineteen I can proudly say that I used to love Queen. I still remain a fan and when I heard of the movie coming out I jumped for joy and counted down the days till it was out. The disappointment that was to follow has no rivals.

Before I go on to criticize Bohemian Rhapsody, I’ll say the two things I enjoyed about the whole movie, first: it wasn’t a musical. My biggest fear entering the movie theatre was that it would be a random musical about Queen. It’s a question of taste, but musicals are just not my thing; second: I loved the last twenty minutes. The segment of Live Aid, although historically inaccurate as Queen had toured again as a group before the Live Aid, was absolute beautiful and it made me realize how sad is it that our generation doesn’t have such an iconic band like our parents’ generation did. Sure maybe in a few decades we’ll look back and say that they defying artist of our century was Beyoncé or Drake or whoever, but at the moment the 21stcentury is truly lacking an iconic band like Queen. Beside the two factors I mentioned, there was nothing about the movie that was really enjoyable, except the soundtrack but we will not count that because it was playback and who goes to watch a movie about Queen without liking the songs. 

I must admit that I went to watch it quite late, despite my excitement throughout the year. If I had to give a one word review about the whole movie it would be ‘mediocre’. But then, some people may ask, why write a review about a whole movie if it was simply mediocre? Well, my dear reader, it’s because last night (as I’m writing this it’s the 7thof January) Bohemian Rhapsody won two out two of the Golden Globes that it was nominated for. Undeserved the nomination, extremely unnecessary the wins. 

Image credit: Nick Delaney

Bohemian Rhapsody is an idea, not a movie and it was badly executed. It was promoted as a movie about Queen, but it turned out to be more about Freddy Mercury as a single character. I brought this up to a friend and he pointed out that no one wanted to see a movie about the other remaining Queen members getting married and having kids. Freddy Mercury is entertainment and extravagance. In short, it brings in views. That’s true, but then ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week’, a well-balanced movie about another classic 20thcentury generation band, should have been a flop. 

However, it’s not only how it was promoted that made Bohemian Rhapsody mediocre. The film was co-written with the two remaining Queen members therefore it already experienced a biased view and historically inaccurate. It did not mention any of the side careers that other Queen members had. For example, the bassist John Deacon was not only the bassist for Queen. He worked for multiple bands and artists, including Elton John. He even collaborated with Mercury during his solo albums making the whole scene of Freddy Mercury taking off and coming back from his solo career inaccurate. 

If that wasn’t enough, the movie didn’t flow very well. At moments it was attempting to be deep and emotional and make the viewer feel compassion for Freddy Mercury being left alone, but, ten seconds later, the scene changes and it moves to a party. The empathy that the movie wants us to feel for Freddy is not explored to its full potential. I understand that the director intended for us to understand that Freddy threw all those parties to feel less alone, but the way that it was shown was superficial. 

Another issue was casting; the casting was a part of the movie that was also badly executed. I must admit, the actors of Rodger Taylor and Brian May were absolutely spot on, and we saw so little of John Deacon that it really is unimportant who they casted for his role. But when it comes to Freddy Mercury, it was the wrong choice all together. Rami Malek being casted as Freddy Mercury was previously criticized when it was first announced, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Having seen the movie I find myself agreeing with the critics: Rami Malek, or in other words, his character as Freddy, made Freddy Mercury a laughing stock. From a flamboyant stage personality, he made him into a sort of psychotic wannabe singer. An honorable mention to the wig artist for the ridiculous wig at the beginning of the movie. 

Image courtesy: gettyimages.com

I’m not a film expert nor a professional critic. I love the movies, and I try to go as much as I can, but I’m no expert. But hearing about the two wins for this movie really shocked me. Of all the great motion pictures that came out this year, it was really given to Bohemian Rhapsody for a partially made up and inaccurate representation of the Queen movie that it was set to be but wasn’t? 

In all due respect, I’m not here to tell people to not enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a question of taste and free choice. I understand why the movie is so well liked. It’s a moving story, a tribute to a much loved band. In the theatre where I watched it there was a number of people in tears, especially the younger generation who grew up listening to Queen but not seeing it, felt like they were seeing the band grow and show a new side from just the songs. For others it was nostalgic, seeing a band that they grew up with being brought back to life. Despite all, nostalgia and beauty of Queen being brought back to life, from an objective point of view this movie committed many faults that made it extremely mediocre and undeserving of the praise it received. 

Valentina Gomes dos Santos
vg17498@essex.ac.uk