Movie Review: Freddie Mercury Dazzles Huntingdon

Borb Hankes and Cosimo Sciortino

The Clifton 5 movie theater offered a 5 dollar movie night, and we saw the new biopic detailing Freddie Mercury’s life. We were impressed by the movie’s ability to depict the multifaceted nature of Mercury’s on and offstage personas. His life and love were well represented,  Rami Malek performed spectacularly as Mercury. There were parts of the movie that were made meticulously, while others seemed to fall short. Nevertheless, if one is viewing to enjoy Queen’s music, and remember Mercury for his stage presence, this movie is for you.

The casting of the film stood out among the other artistic choices. The actors of the four band members were complete lookalikes of the original members of Queen. Especially Gwilym Lee’s portrayal of Brian May. Lee in the movie has an uncanny resemblance to May, so much so that we believed May dyed his hair and was in the movie. Rami Malek too not only looked like Mercury, but also captured the emotional range expected of a gargantuan personality. He channeled Mercury at his highest highs and lowest lows. Also notable is the casting of Mercury’s family. The film did not shy away, and in fact embraced, Mercury being from Zanzibar and of Indian descent. The Bulsara household is conveyed as conservative making it clear why Freddie decided to lead the life he did. All around solid casting decisions.

Along with the casting, the acting was phenomenal. Within the confines of the script, which we will discuss later in the article, the actors performed truthfully to the people they represented. The scene that exemplifies this is when the band is writing the music for the album A Night at the Opera. This is the album that “Bohemian Rhapsody” appears on. The group is eating breakfast in a small cottage in the hills of England when the band members start discussing which songs should appear on the album. Eventually,  May brings up Roger Taylor’s (portrayed by Ben Hardy) song “I’m in Love with My Car.” This, to us, made the characters seem human, and allowed humor to be present in an otherwise serious tribute.

Unfortunately, the film did have some shortcomings. The script of the film, we believe, was shallow and lacking in imagination. In the scenes that focused on the band outside of Mercury, the dialogue was smooth and interactions felt natural. However, the scenes that focus primarily on Mercury, which is the purpose of the film, felt disjointed, clunky, and forced. When alone on screen, or alongside one other actor, Mercury spoke in a form of soliloquy that detracted from the rest of the film. An example of this is when Mercury speaks to his exfiancé while going through troubled times he says “Being human is a condition that requires a little anesthetic.”  This line does not mesh with the rest of the scene, nor does it contribute to the dialogue of the movie. There are several scenes in the film that suffer similarly.

The plot also had its failings and discrepancies. The music in the movie is the first and most egregious of these errors. The first album released in the movie, Queen, contains a number of songs, including “Killer Queen,” that did not come out a year later. It is surprising that the producers would make such an error, given that they could expect much of their audience to be familiar with the band’s history. This is not the only anachronism; their first American tour features “Fat Bottom Girls,” which was not released until well into the 90’s. This may be frustrating for diehard fans.

Also frustrating was the story of Jim Hutton, who was Mercury’s longtime partner. The film is less than truthful. In the movie, Mercury gropes Hutton at a house party, who then requires only minimal persuasion to share a drink. They speak for a few minutes, and then Hutton disappears into thin air. He returns just before the Live Aid performance, the climax of the movie, to start a lifelong relationship with Mercury. In actuality, Mercury met Hutton at a bar and refused his offer for a drink; it was not until a second meet up years later that he tentatively accepted. Their relationship was rocky and ended with Mercury’s death. It was not the instant, deep love shown in the movie. The writers may have made this choice to enhance their vision of Mercury’s life as fastpaced and profound, but we felt it weakened the film’s credibility.

The final fifteen minutes of the film was a homage to Queen’s  Live Aid performance, and it was incredible. The cinematography was superb; between the raging crowd and powerful music it felt as though we were experiencing it live. There was one shot from an angle just above the keyboard during “Love of my Life” that showed Mercury’s reflection that swept us off of our feet. That moment was the perfect shot to encapsulate the energy of the climactic sequence.

Although the movie had some flaws, it was high energy, engaging, and ended on a high note! All in All: 11 Borbmos ;]