Skip to main content

Vic’s Flix Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

Every so often a music genre biopic comes along that leaves you feeling remorseful when you leave the theater. The feeling isn’t one of disappointment in a poor film, but rather the realization that something amazing happened in the world during your lifetime, and you either missed it completely or were only marginally aware of what many others relished in real time.
For example, perhaps you also drove by the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco as I did during the "Summer of Love" in 1967, blissfully unaware of the cultural significance of the location, and wondering aloud, “Is that a Hippie, Mom?” Yeah, and I could have gone to Woodstock too if I was a couple of years older.
So, I have to consider the era of Queen as portrayed in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody as one of those experiences. I was never much of a Queen fan, but it was hard to miss their stadium rocking, anthem-stomping presence in the 1970s and 80s. My all time favorite Queen song is “39.” I consider it the third song in a space trilogy comprised also of Elton John’s “Rocketman” and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (Major Tom.)
I learned a couple of things about Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Bulsara) in this film. First, that he was considered to be Pakistani, “a Paki,” and was raised in England following his early childhood in India. Second, Mercury married Mary Austin when he was only 24. She inspired the song, “Love of My Life” that later became a traditional sing-along by audiences, almost to the exclusion of the band itself.
I was struck by Mercury’s self-confidence. He knew how talented he was (extremely), and quickly became the leader, main vocalist, writer and producer for the band. The falling out with their first manager, if portrayed accurately, was a risky move for a band that was virtually broke despite early successes.
Rami Malek recently won a well-deserved best actor Golden Globe award for his portrayal of the rock icon. How he avoided choking on the mouthful of teeth that the British (jokingly in the movie) and Mercury, in actuality, never had straightened was a challenge in itself. Malek conveyed the complexity and genius of his character through to the climactic Live Aid concert re-creation, which is so close to the original it leaves you wondering if some of it is original footage.
I recall learning about AIDS in the late 1970s as a medical technologist. We received earlier briefings than most of the public due to our daily handling of potentially contaminated blood specimens. An initial soft warning quickly became a dire and unusually rigid protocol within the lab. The disease, of course, entered Bohemian Rhapsody as Mercury’s tragic killer a couple of years after the Live Aid concert. It cut his career short at age 45, and it leaves you wondering what more he was capable of.
Of course, the writing and recording of the title song is prominently featured, in intriguing detail, at length, but not to the point at which interest is lost. The experimental nature of the lyrics and music is revealed layer by layer, and you get the sense that Mercury’s somewhat mystified band mates inevitably go along for an exciting ride, in awe of “Freddie’s thing” as the song came to be known.
This movie is probably not an example of great filmmaking. It has some script weakness at points, and it probably sugar coats the dynamic within the band. But it is certainly worth seeing, even if you’re not a fan, and you may find, upon returning home, that you ask Alexa to play the album A Night at the Opera in its entirety, as I did.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) runs 2 hours, 14 minutes and is rated PG-13.

Should you see this movie?

Popular posts from this blog

Tenet

A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backward as forward. “Tenet” is a palindrome. There are entire scenes within this movie that are palindrome-ish. The movie is utterly confusing and exhausting to decipher for the entirety of its two and a half hours. It is also brilliantly written, if complexity gets credit, and the editor(s) of this beast should win an Oscar. I could tell you the entire plot and key scenes of this film without spoiling it. I love good time travel movies, but they are simple by comparison to this looping, parallel timeline action film in which John David Washington, known as “The Protagonist” and his strangely familiar partner Neil, played by Robert Pattinson, set out to save the world from something they don’t understand. Washington recently starred in BlacKkKlansman , which was a walk in the park compared to this very physical role as a CIA type who has been tested for inclusion in a secret organization that operates outside of time and national in

Dark Waters

Mark Ruffalo plays real life corporate attorney Rob Bilott in this true story about Dupont Chemicals Company’s atrocious poisoning of the farming community of Parkersburg, West Virginia over a period of decades. Through a series of unlikely connections, Bilott exposed and brought to account the largest chemical company of its day. Ruffalo also steps into the Producer role for this film, with co-star Anne Hathaway as Bilott’s wife Sarah. Tim Robbins plays Bilott’s reluctantly supportive boss Tom Terp, who becomes crucial to the eventual success of Bilott’s extensive research. The use of several actual characters from the community that were poisoned by Dupont’s blockbuster product called Teflon, lends the film additional credibility. One baby, born disfigured from the effects of “C-8” in the drinking water and on the production line where a number of pregnant women worked, appears as an adult late in the film. This is not a wild ride or even that exciting, but throughout the film you ho

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Those who may be mistakenly drawn to this film as fans of the magician David Copperfield will be disappointed. But as a huge Charles Dickens fan, it was a must see as soon as I heard it was released. It was also our first time venturing out to a theater since about February. I’m happy to report that the experience was safe and sanitary. Being virtually the only two people in the theater helped a lot. Contactless ticketing and concessions, masks, gloves, cleaning between features and social distancing were all in play. So, a brief note about the magician we’ve unfortunately all come to know better perhaps than this classic character from Dickens’ own favorite and most successful book. Magician David Seth Kotkin changed his name to the Charles Dickens character David Copperfield because he liked the sound of it. The book is magical, but that’s about all the two have in common. Dev Patel of  Slumdog Millionaire  plays David alongside several other memorable cast members. Not least of thes