A Korean thriller’s Burn­ing mys­ter­ies

The Georgia Straight - - Movies - By

BO­HEMIAN RHAP­SODY Star­ring Rami Malek. Rated PG

das Fred­die Mer­cury, Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek nails the late singer’s trade­mark over­bite, el­e­gantly feral stage de­liv­ery, and posh ac­cent. Mer­cury in no way de­rived that last part from his par­ents, Zoroas­trian Parsi In­di­ans who moved from Zanz­ibar to the U.K. when Far­rokh Bul­sara was a teenager. He only had lis­tened to In­dian mu­sic un­til dis­cov­er­ing Led Zep­pelin and Liza Min­nelli, and he had the zeal of a new con­vert.

The movie rushes through his first en­coun­ters of what would even­tu­ally be­come Queen. Gui­tarist Brian May and drum­mer Roger Tay­lor (Gwilym Lee and Ben Hardy) helped pro­duce the movie, and be­cause John Dea­con (Joe Mazzello) didn’t, the lat­ter gets con­sid­er­ably less screen time. The early scenes of cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion and show-busi­ness as­cent are fairly thrilling. That’s what made these peo­ple worth biopic­ing in the first place.

There’s an es­pe­cially juicy cameo with a fic­tional record exec who doesn’t want to re­lease the band’s tit­u­lar mas­ter­piece, the fun dou­bled by hav­ing him played by Mike My­ers, who re­pop­u­lar­ized the 1975 song in Wayne’s World. Even bet­ter, the film jux­ta­poses the band’s tour­ing suc­cess with graphic ex­cerpts from neg­a­tive re­views of the song.

The story gets more in­ac­cu­rate as it slogs through its long 130 min­utes, riven by com­pet­ing agen­das and a ragged pro­duc­tion his­tory. Sacha Baron Co­hen was orig­i­nally slated to play the lead, and di­rec­tor Stephen Frears was on­board at one point. Even­tu­ally, Bryan Singer was cho­sen, but was re­placed by Dex­ter Fletcher, the ac­tor turned di­rec­tor cur­rently tack­ling El­ton John in Rock­et­man.

The most frac­tured area in­volves Fred­die’s mer­cu­rial sex life. It ramps up his re­la­tion­ship with early girl­friend Mary Austin (Lucy Boyn­ton) at the ex­pense of his even­tual gay iden­tity—at the time sur­pris­ing only to peo­ple sure Lib­er­ace was straight. Mary was cru­cial to him but this overly san­i­tized Rhap­sody re­lies on the kind of de­monic de­pic­tion of gay sub­cul­ture we used to see in the bad old days, es­sen­tially blam­ing his even­tual AIDS di­ag­no­sis on un­healthy moral choices.

A lot is crammed into the pe­riod lead­ing up to Queen’s tri­umphant turn at Live Aid, in 1985. Beau­ti­fully restaged here, it’s de­picted as a strained re­union, although the band never ac­tu­ally broke up.

It’s still tour­ing, in fact, and this ar­ti­fact, while in­ter­mit­tently en­joy­able, seems more like merch than a real movie.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.