Queen was a good rock band made great by its frontman, Freddie Mercury. Bohemian Rhapsody is a good rock film made great by the performance of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury.
Malik is the plus one that makes Bohemian Rhapsody soar, rises it above its standard rock bio pic origins, and even its egregious Mercury overbite prosthetics. Sacha Baron Cohen might have been great had Bohemian Rhapsody embraced every bit of Mercury’s flamboyant GB of his LGBT-ness and gone for a hard R. But that would have neglected the music at the expense of the man, so Rami Malek is the great PG-13 compromise, that does Queen’s music and Mercury’s queerness good and honors the legacy of the band.
Bohemian Rhapsody is unabashedly unapologetic for stressing the Queen myth over the real story. The bandmates don’t stray from their standard rock bio roles of being supporters, enablers, confronters, bickerers and breakup Kings when the great Queen voice dares to go solo, uplifters and cheerleaders when the fatal diagnosis comes and the band’s great moment in the sun arrives.
That great moment is Queen’s set at Live Aid, considered to be the greatest 21 minutes in rock concert history. Malek gives it his all and the perfect staging of it gives the music, the band and the man the ultimate closing act.
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