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Existential Binge-Watching: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ will rock you

Every weekend I’m dipping my toes further into the sea of venues Athens has to offer. My recent obsession has been the Athena Grand Cinema, where I’ve been quite a few times in only about two weekends. Lo and behold; one of these many visits, with slushies in hand, was the opening night of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Queen has been a mainstay in my musical library since I can remember. So to say that I went into this movie with a bit of caution is an understatement. While it wasn’t perfect — I’ll touch on that later — the film ended up surprising me. The cinematography was on point, the story was easy to follow and mostly true to real life, and of course it’s always a blast to listen to Queen favorites blaring in a surround sound movie theatre. 

The true rockstar of this movie is Rami Malek, who portrays Freddie Mercury himself. Only knowing Malek from Mr. Robot I knew he had a good set of acting chops on him, but I was blown away by the immersive measures Malek went into to really capture the image of Freddie Mercury on the big screen. It’s as if the fictional retelling of his life had become an actual documentary. Malek brought the flair, the drama, the outright dedication and passion to music that we all associate with Mercury to life. This is not to undersell the other actors in the film. Every single person had great chemistry and committed to a stellar level to their roles, especially the bandmates, really crafting a remarkably accurate depiction of Queen.

One of the greatest joys of my life has been sitting in a theatre getting to listen to Queen songs. Another kudos to the actors depicting the titular band because the majority of the music were of course recordings, yet the acting made it seem like we were literally watching those songs we’ve come to know and love so much be played for the first times in front of our eyes. This is mostly due to the musicality of the actors themselves — not only did they study how the actual members of Queen played, but they had to play for real as well. Most of the music we hear in the film isn’t them, but they still played on set, Malek still sang. The one song played by the actors, ‘Another One Bites the Dust,’ is done so well I assumed it was still a backtrack.

Perhaps the most stunning and breathtaking portion of the film is the last twenty or so minutes — the recreation of Queen’s Live Aid performance. The only way I can possibly describe this is to tell you to go watch. After you do, and watch the film’s version, both are almost identical. Every note, every moment of Freddie owning the stage is depicted accurately in the movie. The commitment of the filmmakers is so present, it really is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen in a movie.

While I certainly loved the film, and would recommend anyone see it at least once, there is one complaint I just can’t let go of. This retelling of Freddie Mercury’s life is very by the books. It’s a cookie cutter, greatest hits of Queen’s lifespan if you will. I had hoped for more going in honestly — a bit more creativity in the events, more build up, enough flair to make Mercury uncomfortable. But, while it settles into a better rhythm toward the second half, the first part of Bohemian Rhapsody falls prey to quicktime jumps, and out of nowhere dramatic moments. That could be perhaps due to the hectic production of the film, the firing of Bryan Singer as director or the interference of the living members of Queen, but it is a rather glaring error in an all around enjoyable film.

That said, I still walked out of the theatre with a grin on my face, hearing ‘We Are the Champions’ on repeat in my head for the thousandth time and still loving it. So take the film for what it is: an outright fun retelling of Freddie Mercury’s life with excellent actors who portray the raw energy of Queen on stage to great extents. Take some friends and see it as many times as you’re willing to get a good portion of the band’s discography stuck in your head for weeks. This is one rhapsody that would make Mercury proud.

Jackson Horvat is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.

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