5 November 2018

Is This The Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy?

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Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of the band Queen with a particular focus on its lead singer Freddie Mercury. Having seen his smile, I also recommend that you see the film on the biggest screen possible as nothing less will be able to fit his fucking teeth on.. let alone his ego. The film charts the band's journey from their humble beginnings and goes all the way to their epic Live Aid performance in which it's implied that they single-handedly solved world hunger. Other than a brief stint in which Freddie leaves the band to pursue an ill-founded solo career, the group seems to conquer the planet with relative ease, which is even more impressive when you consider that most of their songs are total shit. I'm not a huge fan of Queen because I prefer it when music isn't overly-long, shallow, and self-indulgent drivel, which is a shame here because that's how I feel about films too. Despite having so much dirt that it could have dealt with, Bohemian Rhapsody instead opted to get down on its knees and give Mercury a two hour blow-job, with the movie glorifying the band as blatantly as Triumph Of The Will did the fucking Nazis. Not that I'm saying that Queen are as bad as the Nazis, obviously. Although to clarify.. nor am I saying that this film is even remotely as well made as their Triumph Of The Will.

When the trailer for this film was released it came under some pretty heavy criticism for the way in which it seemed to hide Mercury's sexuality. Considering that a quick Google search of the man will bring up a story of how he supposedly once buggered a rent-boy so hard that it only ended when the rent-boy prolapsed, I think it's safe to say that he was most likely a gay man. When that particular story ends with him allegedly shouting out “This one's broken! Find me another”, I suppose it was also pretty likely that he was quite open about it. Now with that in mind, you might expect the film of his life to draw some controversy in its depiction of his behaviour, however when that controversy is due to its prudishness then things aren't looking too good. Although the final film does thankfully reveal his sexuality to be somewhat less vanilla than the trailer suggests, it still barely scratches the surface. He is shown to have a boyfriend, although that man is depicted as being so two-dimensionally evil in his attempt to split up the band that he could have been replaced with a cardboard cutout of Lady Macbeth after she'd had a handlebar moustache drawn on her in fucking marker pen. 

This is compared to pretty much the entire first half of the movie in which we see Freddie meet and fall for the 'love of his life' Mary Austin. I'm not saying that the real Freddie didn't care for this woman at all, but simply that a film in which they talk about how they like to “shag” but then refuses shows anything stronger than a kiss with other men isn't quite telling the whole story. This is certainly true when it comes to his drug use too which by all accounts was so extreme that this movie should have played out like the end of fucking Scarface. Instead, Bohemian Rhapsody only hints at this aspect of his life by showing him glance at a little cocaine on a table after a party and having one of his bandmates accuse him of being “high”. This might be okay if you're telling the story of the average rock-star but not Freddie fucking Mercury. Again a quick google search will tell you story after story about how he'd have people blow cocaine up his arse, or he'd have a small fleet of dwarves walking around his parties with trays of cocaine on their head. Are these stories all true? I don't know. Although I was reading them on The Guardian newspaper's website and so it's not like I was simply trawling the pissant dirge of TMZ. But either way, I also very much doubt that the version we see here is in anyway accurate either with it being so inoffensive and forgettably bland that I was only ever able to remember the last five minutes of what I'd seen like Leonard from fucking Memento.

However, I'm not one of those annoying pricks that thinks a film based on a true story should have to stick to the truth and so I should clarify that that's not my problem here. If they'd wanted to include a scene in which Queen had done a gig on fucking Mars and to an audience of aliens in assless chaps then I'd say go for it! My problem is that the movie has ignored the true story that we all know and replaced it with a much less interesting one that clearly only exists to help sell their Best Of album afterwards. By removing any element of controversy then all you're left with are the band coming up with their songs and then performing them. So you get scene after scene in which somebody will improvise a piece of music that sounds like one of their hits, they'll all collectively look at each other in excitement, and then we'll cut to them on stage performing the final version. By all means, include one moment like that as it's kind of the cliched thing to do in a musical biopic.. but I swear that that's all this film does. It's not so much an interesting depiction of one of the most famous bands of all time but rather a cinematic tribute to a Queen medley album. 

Perhaps you could argue that this is a fan film that gives the people that love the band something to enjoy. I'll always regret that the version of this movie which would have featured Sacha Baron Cohen in the lead will never see the light of day due to the band's fear of how close to the truth he would get. However, Rami Malek is incredible in the lead role and if you like their music then you'll hear it pretty non-stop here. I also thought that the dubbing in the movie worked really well too as usually, I'd prefer the actor to just do the singing themselves to prevent the distraction of a completely different voice suddenly coming out of their mouth. However, Malek's performance was so convincing that when he was being dubbed by the actual Mercury I completely bought it. But even if you're a fan of the band and this film is for you, is this all you really want from a movie? A cruel person might say that, if so, Queen's fans should have higher expectations. Although if they had higher expectations I suppose they wouldn't be Queen fans. Luckily I'm not a cruel person and so I won't say that. But by giving us nothing that we couldn't already find on YouTube then the movie is just showing us a cover-band that spends two hours lip-syncing. I might not like Queen but I do love The Rolling Stones and I know that I'd be a little confused in a biopic about them if you had a character called Keith Richards and a PG rating. 

It's even more interesting that the film decided to present itself as a generic puff-piece when you consider that it was directed by Bryan Singer. I mean, if Freddie Mercury considered himself to be a bi-sexual with a controversial lifestyle then even he probably wouldn't have anything on Singer. So much so that Singer himself was fired from the movie before it was completed resulting in the studio having to replace him with the ever competent Dexter Fletcher. I'm not sure what exactly happened although after an allegedly tense set I'm sure Singer was just glad to get to another of his barely-legal pool parties back home. In defence of his sacking, Singer has since claimed that everything that went on during the making of the film was simply part of the creative process and that the final results speaks for themselves. Although I think that only works as an excuse when you make a classic and not a movie in which the bulk of the reviews are negative to dismissively average. I mean, the movie here doesn't even deal with Mercury's battle with AIDS which seems ripe for fucking drama. Instead, we get him coughing blood into a tissue, what seemed to be the full fucking Live Aid set, and then a bit of text during the credits informing us that he only died a few years later. If Bohemian Rhapsody is just a feature-length blow-job for its lead character, and if Singer directed the bulk of it, then I guess he's the one responsible for working the shaft whilst Dexter Fletcher tickles the balls from behind. I can't say that's something that I find particularly interesting to watch but I'm sure Freddie Mercury would love it and at the end of the day that's all the film seems to care about. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time. 

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