You’ve got to love a music biopic. From Johnny Cash to Joy Division, the only thing that is surprising is the fact that there hasn’t been one made about Queen or Freddie yet. Now, in 2018, 27 years after the death of a legend, Freddie Mercury is back on our screens reincarnate.
Bohemian Rhapsody is set to trace the rise of the band and the evolution of their experimental music, including the origins of their most famous songs, before the Live Aid concert of 1985. With Rami Malek in the lead role (need I say that this is the part of Freddie Mercury?), the film also stars the always fantastic Tom Hollander, as well as Mike Myers, Aidan Gillen, Lucy Boynton, Joseph Mazzello, Allen Leech, Ben Hardy and Gwilym Lee.
While both unknown talent (e.g. Sam Riley as Ian Curtis in Control) and star factor (Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line) have found success in the genre, the more underground sensation of Malek (The Pacific, Mr. Robot) leaves us confident and intrigued. His consistently strong performances speak for the calibre of the actor himself, while his indie sensibility always provides us with fresh and exciting characters. This role is clearly no different, with his bedazzled British musical icon already wowing us in the first two trailers, mesmerising as only Fred could.
Any bad press the film received upon the release of the first trailer just shows how fickle the media really are. While they should have been praising the brilliant job someone did on a trailer that really didn’t give that much away, the press complained that it didn’t give away enough. Hell, Mercury shouldn’t have to be exclusively identified by his bisexuality or his diagnosis of HIV, facts that would have come to light naturally over the course of the film. But in a world where political correctness has gone wrong, he has to be stripped of any humanity and instantly defined by these blunt terms. Indeed, Mercury speaks from beyond the grave in the poignantly chosen scene from the new trailer when a journalist starts, “Freddie, concerning your private life,” to which Mercury replies: “what more do you need to know, I make music”.
As seems only fitting for Fred, the production of the film didn’t potter along without a little drama either. The original director Bryan Singer (who has been given the director credit for the film) was fired after allegations from an unsurprisingly disgruntled cast concerning his truancy on set. He was replaced by another Spielberg-Hanks war series veteran, Dexter Fletcher (Band of Brothers). Fletcher had been involved with the project early on before its creative direction changed course, and so despite any concerns that may arise from this sensational episode, the final third of the film that had yet to be completed was in safe hands.
Although it’s still the vocals of Freddie we can hear embellishing and punctuating the previews, a music biopic is never quite right without the real deal. Malek had to sing in front of Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon during the making of the film, which can only bode well for his vocals. Staring down a photograph of Freddie while recording at Abbey Road Studios in Queen’s presence, Malek got the feeling Fred was telling him “don’t f**k this up man”, and to be honest, I can’t help but agree.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), directed by Bryan Singer, will be released in the UK on October 24th 2018.