* * * * (Don)
* * * (Joyce)
Sports fans around the country sing out “We will, we will rock you” and “We are the champions” every day. British rock legends Queen will go down in history for those two audience-participation songs.
Bohemian Rhapsody takes you inside the world of Queen, their beginnings, rise to fame, conflict among members, Freddie Mercury’s bisexuality and split from the group and, finally, their triumphant participation in the 1985 Live Aid concert.
While there are familiar elements to the movie, director Bryan Singer succeeds in making the movie both a display of the best of Queen and a personal look at its lead singer.
If you are not or were not a fan of Queen, you will not enjoy the movie as much as I did. It is filled with dozens of songs, sung in rehearsal, recording, concerts and in the background. We witness the formation of the band in England, their struggles to get radio time, their triumphant tour of America, their famous six-minute recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a feat unheard of in the recording industry, their struggles, and their eventual parting of ways.
Rami Malek is fantastic as Freddie Mercury, the conflicted composer/singer of the group who was a genius at creating new and different music but was self-destructive in his personal life. While he loves Mary Austin deeply, his bisexuality leads to conflicts that affect both his personal and private life and lead to a career shut down too soon.
Gwilym Lee plays guitarist Brian May, who comes up with the brilliant idea for “We Will Rock You.” Looking out over the thousands of fans at a concert, he observes that they are all singing the lyrics to their songs. In the rehearsal studio, he gets the band to stomp their feet and clap their hands to the pulsating beat of the classic song he has written. It is a great moment in music history.
Whether or not you are a Queen fan, there is a lot to like in this powerful look at the world of rock and roll when there was such a thing as rock and roll.
Rated PG-13, with some profanity and drug use.