My husband and I enjoyed watching the movie BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. However, we didn’t think it was great. The film was sanitized for our tastes, skimming over Parsi-descended, British master singer and performer Freddie Mercury’s gay sex life during the wild 1970s and 1980s. To be clear, we weren’t expecting or wishing for soft porn. However, we found the avoidance of any nudity whatsoever and only strong suggestions of sex occurring to be stilted and prudish. Sadly, Mercury was not portrayed in a well-rounded way, but only semi-sincerely. As if allowing two brief, fully-clothed kissing scenes between he and another man should somehow be enough for us in the audience who are not heterosexual or who are and are open-minded, open-hearted, and sex-positive about life. It seemed that Mercury’s sexuality was ultimately pathologized, made more the means towards a morality play about how he cut his life short from contracting AIDS, even though he and so many didn’t come to know about this epidemic until it was too late. Such moralizing is old and tiresome and misses some of the beauty of how Freddie chose to celebrate his existence, as dark as some of the choices he made were.
Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek deserves high praise for his portrayal of the band Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury. He clearly studied that brilliant performer’s movements and mannerisms assiduously, playing the role with flamboyant gusto. He was a joy to watch, making the best of the material given to him to work with. It also helped that he looked the part so compellingly. The supporting cast was stellar, many if not most of them British, or very believably so.
The 1970s and ’80s rocker hair and clothing were fun to see and, of course, the music and songs from Queen’s recordings were all fabulous.
The script was formulaic in places, which went along with the sanitized prudery already mentioned, rendering this screenplay mediocre instead of terrific.
While watching the movie, a few straight men sitting to my right did not seem to have any clue about what they had come to see. They groaned and huffed during the kissing scenes, which was annoying but did not take away from the movie for us. I did want to turn to them and say something like, “Really, dudes?? Can you get over your homophobia now or at least better research the subject matter of a movie first before seeing it?” This was a reminder to me of the evolution remaining for many to yet accomplish towards the philosophy of live and let live and celebrating life in all its many colors. Freddie Mercury sure did.