Director: Bryan Singer Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee
Freddie Mercury was the most majestically debauched of all rock stars. A bad-boy diva with a famous overbite that made him look not just sexy but libidinous, he strutted around onstage with the come-hither flamboyance of a leering vampire prince. And, of course, no one in rock history had pipes like his. In his heyday as the lead singer of Queen, during the mid- to late-1970s, Mercury crooned and wailed, but more than that he soared, like Robert Plant fused with the spirits of Cher and Tina Turner. He was as downand- dirty as any rock ’ n’ roller, but his melodic glide could lift you to the heavens. Queen’s iconic anthem “We Will Rock You” was written as a call-and-response between the band and its fans, but the way Mercury sang it, with his snaky grandiloquence (“Buddy, you’re a boy, make a big noise playing in the street …”) the song came off as his unholy credo. The message was: He will rock you.
How do you cast the role of Freddie Mercury? It’s like finding someone to play Mick Jagger or Michael Jackson — you’re going up against the real thing, a pop deity who has never stopped living inside our imaginations. Yet in the scrappy and sprawling rock biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Rami Malek takes on the role of Freddie Mercury as if born to it. Swarthy and insinuating, Malek is outfitted with a set of fake front teeth, a recreation of the jutting Freddie overbite that works well enough (though it’s often a bit distracting), and he winds up looking, and inhabiting, the part to a remarkable degree.
Onstage, Malek’s Freddie is a studded leather peacock, swoony and liberated, letting the life force pour out of him in a glo-