Bohemian Rhapsody is not the worst film my eyes have ever seen. However, its high production values, the near mythic status of the picture’s protagonists, and the wild critical and popular acclaim this has received creates in me a righteous anger, an irrepressible urge to cry out to the heavens: THIS MOVIE IS AN AFFRONT AGAINST AN ENTIRE ART FORM!!
A cruel reminder to aspiring writers everywhere of how cold and unfair the universe is, a major Hollywood studio paid good money to produce a script that’s simply a collection of Wikipedia tidbits on one of music’s most popular bands. There is nothing here that wouldn’t be out of place if you gave a writing assignment to high schoolers on the life of Freddie Mercury. Actually, I’m sure those essays would at least attempt to provide some explanation as to why Mercury had a drug problem, or why he felt so empty despite engaging in orgies each night. Because you know what this script does? Nothing. It simply walks us through a Freddie Mercury for Dummies recreation that’s never as complex or even as wild as anything the man ever did. Seriously, there’s a scene in which Mercury gets up on a couch in the middle of a party, shouts something like “the party is just getting started!”, everybody cheers, and then the scene just…ends.
There’s plenty of stuff like that. Freddie Mercury walking into a gay bar, except is it really a gay bar? I can’t tell because the scene is interspersed with footage of a record spinning, which is actually one of the better applications of editing in a movie that mistakes it for “cut to many reaction shots as possible in every freaking scene”.
As for the conflict? There is none. Sure, the band members fight and break up, Freddie doesn’t get along with his dad, he fires his longtime manager, he gets divorced, he is manipulated by an evil henchman then breaks up with him under the rain, he is diagnosed with AIDS, and yet none of this holds any weight.
Consider the following: Mercury brings shame to his father in the opening scene. Then the old man is never seen nor heard of again. Then 10 minutes before the movie ends, Freddie Mercury hugs his dad and forgives him, and his father cries in Mercury’s arms. Such shoddy attempts at redemption in character arcs are fine if you’re watching cartoons or are not familiar with literature, but in a movie of this caliber with the protagonist being who he was? It’s not even lazy, it’s perverse. It’s doing the bare minimum to trick the audience into believing catharsis has been acquired, when in reality they might as well be witnessing two strangers hug for random reasons.
There is no depth to any of this, no attempt to humanize the gods that went on stage and drove everybody to ecstasy with their music. This is just actors wearing wigs and playing the favorite songs of everyone who after watching it, later went on IMDB and submitted their Oscar ballots with a note saying “play them again!”.