Fea­tures

THE FREDDIE MER­CURY BIOPIC ‘BO­HEMIAN RHAP­SODY’ WILL NOT ROCK YOU, BUT STAR RAMI MALEK WILL IN HIS FULLY IN­HAB­ITED PER­FOR­MANCE AS THE FLAM­BOY­ANT QUEEN FRONT­MAN.

The Gulf Today - Business - - POTPOURRI - JAKE COYLE WRITES

The Freddie Mer­cury biopic ‘Bo­hemian Rhap­sody’ will not rock you, but star Rami Malek will in his fully in­hab­ited per­for­mance as the lam­boy­ant Queen front­man.

Where does apreen­ing, rock star get his pow­ers? The Freddie Mer­cury biopic “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” traces his sonorous majesty to an un­likely place: his back teeth.

Mer­cury, nee Far­rokh Bul­sara, was born with four ex­tra in­cisors, giv­ing him a big­ger mouth. In­tro­duc­ing him­self to his fu­ture Queen band­mates Mer­cury, as played by Rami Malek, ex­plains that THE ADDED Chom­pers HAVE Ben­e­fits Be­yond a provoca­tive, pro­nounced over­bite. It en­dows him with en­hanced vo­cal range.

Teeth-as­sisted or not, Mer­cury’s voice was so ex­pan­sive that it prompted GEN­UINE SCI­EN­TIFIC In­quiry. But RANGE is one thing sorely lack­ing in Bryan Singer’s “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody,” a slav­ishly con­ven­tional rock biopic that at ev­ery turn opts for the stereo­typ­i­cal de­spite a sub­ject who de­voted him­self to the unconventional. It’s a re­mark­ably bland movie about a de­li­ciously vi­brant per­former.

Yet while “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” is so hol­lowly, even com­i­cally for­mu­laic that even Dewey Cox of “Walk Hard” might snicker, It’s illed, of­ten Fan­tas­ti­cally, by Malek’s sin­u­ous, fully in­hab­ited per­for­mance as the Queen front­man. It’s as if he didn’t get the note about THE HALF-HEARTED ilm­mak­ing GO­ING on around him, or if he did, he’s hell-bent on ig­nor­ing it.

Malek, the “Mr. Ro­bot” ac­tor, throws him­self into ev­ery strut­ting sec­ond of screen time as Mer­cury. He lacks both Mer­cury’s voice (it was over­dubbed for singing and per­for­mance scenes) and Mer­cury’s teeth (Malek was outit­ted with FAKE ones). But Malek’s per­for­mance, espe­cially on stage, is so full-bod­ied that he tran­scends both his own dif­fer­ences with Mer­cury and the tepid sur­round­ing melo­drama.

That “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” is a bit of a mess isn’t al­to­gether a sur­prise. Singer was ired to­ward THE END of shoot­ing for not show­ing up on set (Singer said it was to visit an ill par­ent) and was re­placed by Dex­ter Fletcher. Singer re­mains the cred­ited di­rec­tor; Fletcher is listed as a pro­ducer.

The script, too, un­der­went sev­eral passes be­fore one by An­thony Mccarten (“Dark­est Hour, “The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing”) ul­ti­mately pre­vailed. The ilm opens mo­ments BE­FORE Queen’s LIVE Aid per­for­mance at Wembley Sta­dium in 1985, and - as if by rock biopic de­cree shifts back in time to young Freddie, in his mid-20s and liv­ing with his par­ents In THE Lon­don sub­urbs.

Mer­cury was born to a Parsi fam­ily from Zanz­ibar (he at­tended board­ing school in In­dia), but we get only the slight­est of hints of his fam­ily her­itage or what made Mer­cury run from it. By the time we meet him, he hasn’t yet adopted his Ro­man god moniker (more than a stage name, he made “Mer­cury” le­gal), but he might as well have. Young FREDDIE Is AL­READY A LARGER-THAN-LIFE ig­ure clearly des­tined to a life of skin-tight jump­suits and glam-rock an­thems. In A lash HE Goes From sling­ing LUG­GAGE on the Heathrow tar­mac to con­vinc­ing Gui­tarist BRIAN MAY (Gwilym LEE) AND drum­mer Roger Tay­lor (Ben Hardy) that he’s their new lead singer.

Ev­ery­thing in “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” hap­pens less with the thrust of life than THE rapid-ire re­count­ing of A BI­O­GRAPH­I­CAL his­tory, some­times rig­or­ously in step with Wikipedia, some­times tak­ing short­cuts to avoid any­thing that strays out­side a neatly con­trived nar­ra­tive. In the span of min­utes, Queen is a sen­sa­tion with a record con­tract (Mike Mey­ers joins for a tongue-in-cheek cameo as EMI ex­ec­u­tive Ray Fos­ter) and as­pi­ra­tions for much more: a world tour, a far-out con­cept al­bum and be­yond. Our sense is that Mer­cury has swiftly -— and with cu­ri­ously lit­tle trou­ble - re­alised his true self, in all his pea­cock­ing glory.

THE Conlict, HINTED At In pass­ing glances in be­tween record­ing ses­sions, is that Mer­cury, who died of Aids-re­lated pneu­mo­nia In 1991 At 45, Isn’t quite so free off stage as he is on, de­spite all HIS RAD­I­CAL lam­boy­ance. MUCH time Is spent with his long­time part­ner Mary Austin (Lucy Boy­ton) AND, later, with a di­abol­i­cal per­sonal man­ager-friend, Paul Prenter (Allen LEECH), who Gets most of the blame for any­thing bad Mer­cury ever did.

But THE ilm mostly sticks to THE fa­mil­iar tra­jec­tory of rock star­dom: stu­dio magic, back­stage ex­cess, band INIGHTING, MIS­GUIDED solo Ef­forts, Drug prob­lems and - that most heinous of men­aces in the mu­sic biopic - the temp­ta­tion of disco.

The only time “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” works Is when It in­ally re­treats From not just the stan­dard biopic nar­ra­tive but from sto­ry­telling al­to­gether. It con­cludes with a nearly song-by-song recre­ation of the band’s re­union show At LIVE AID WHICH, DE­SPITE THE movie’s fudged time­line, took place two years be­fore Mer­cury’s AIDS di­ag­no­sis. Still, the power comes mainly from the tunes AND From Mer­cury/malek’s mag­ni­icent stage pres­ence. “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” might be easy come, easy go, but Malek makes for a show-stop­ping sil­hou­etto of a man.

Gwilym Lee, (left), Rami Malek and Joe Mazzello

Rami Malek, (left), and Gwilym Lee

Ben Hardy, (left), Gwilym Lee, Joe Mazzello and Rami Malek

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