Bohemian Rhapsody ★★½

I wanted to love this movie. I love Queen and if ever a lead singer deserved an out-of-this world film, it's Freddie Mercury.

As it turns out, Bohemian Rhapsody is only partly that film. The story plays out as if someone were watching a film on fastforward, ocassionally pressing the "skip" button here and there. Everything that takes place, as meticulous as it all is, feels rushed. There is no nuance, no attempt to delve deeper and let ideas breathe.

So, what works? Rami Malek is solid as Freddy Mercury, if not a bit restrained in the film's dramatic scenes. He punches a hole in the proverbial sky, however, whenever he takes the stage. Malek's mastery of Mercury's stage presence and Rhapsody's musical sequences themselves are exhilarating. I almost want to recommend the film based on those alone.

Malek is joined by a merry band of peers who virtually vanish into their respective roles. Whether it's Gwylim Lee's pitch-perfect Brian May or Ben Hardy's soulful Roger Taylor, the casting is all aces.

This is a film that seems to almost follow a checklist of music biopic requirements, dutifully ticking boxes as it goes along (often at the expense of more important aspects). It's never boring though, despite my wish that it would take time to delve more deeper than the surface. Perhaps Queen is just too big for a two-hour film. Whatever the reason, I can only hope that someday Freddy Mercury and Queen will get the nuanced storytelling that their extraordinary mark on history deserves.

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