Bohemian Rhapsody review round-up: Rami Malek-starrer honours Freddie Mercury, the showman, not the person

FP Staff

October 24, 2018 14:19:55 IST

Rami Malek takes on the role of colourful rock star Freddie Mercury in the film Bohemian Rhapsody, which begins it global roll-out on Wednesday.

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

Malek, the Emmy-winning star of TV drama Mr. Robot, portrays Mercury from his early days with Queen in the 1970s, through its rise to worldwide fame with anthems such as “We Will Rock You,” to a rousing performance at the Live Aid benefit concert in July 1985 at London’s Wembley Stadium. The film also documents Mercury’s personal battles, including his struggle with his sexuality and drug and alcohol use.

While the reviews for the Bryan Singer directorial have been mixed, the praise for Malek's performance has been universal. Variety said the 37 year-old Egyptian-born American actor “takes on the role of Freddie Mercury as if born to it,” while The Hollywood Reporter said that “taking on a daunting task, he more than delivers.”

Here's what the critics have been saying:

IndieWire (David Ehrlich): "The critical failure of Bohemian Rhapsody is that, 134 minutes after the lights go down, the members of Queen just seem like four blokes who’ve been processed through the rusty machinery of a Hollywood biopic."

ScreenCrush (Matt Singer): "Although Malek looks the part, and has Freddie’s dance moves down, his performance is all stiff British accent and overbite (Mercury was born with four extra teeth). Singer never gets beyond the superficial to tell us anything profound or meaningful about Queen or Freddie Mercury or the perils of rock stardom."

USA Today (Brian Truitt): "As it turns out, Bohemian Rhapsody the song is a sonic masterpiece and Bohemian Rhapsody the movie is just a conventional rock flick, one all too ordinary for a man and a band that exemplified the extraordinary."

The Guardian (Steve Rose): "Bohemian Rhapsody honours Mercury the showman but never really gets to Mercury the person."

The AV Club (Jesse Hassenger): "Like a lot of depictions of rock music on film, Bohemian Rhapsody lacks both the stylistic daring of a music video and the outright euphoria of a proper musical, but it gets closer to both with the Live Aid sequence, sort of a cinematic equivalent of that old saw about bands who might sound underwhelming or off-putting on their studio records: You really gotta see ’em live."

Uproxx (Mike Ryan): "I’ve never seen a film distort its facts in such a punitive way. It’s like the movie wants to punish Freddie Mercury. "

New York Post (Johnny Oleksinski): "What we ultimately wanted from Bohemian Rhapsody was not carbon-copied concerts, but behind-closed-doors insight into a deeply private, complicated, internationally beloved superstar."

The Playlist (Kimber Myers): "Both Mercury and Malek deserve better than this. In a role that couldn’t be more of a contrast with the actor’s Emmy-winning work as the guarded hacker on Mr. Robot, he goes big and bold, matching Mercury’s physicality, despite his slight stature. But it’s the small moments and expressions that truly elevate his performance. Unfortunately, the rest of the film just can’t keep up. Despite its intentions to get close to Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody is as intimate as a sold-out stadium show, with none of the accompanying power."

Time Out (Dave Calhoun): "The film’s perspective feels outside-looking-in on Mercury’s world: Its attitude toward sex and drugs is coy and uncomfortably close to the small-world thinking it claims to dismiss."

Bohemian Rhapsody releases in India on 16 November.

(With inputs from Reuters)

Updated Date: Oct 24, 2018 16:37 PM