Bohemian Rhapsody

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Bryan Singer’s film Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) is only fun if you are a fan of Queen. The film is a biopic of the late Freddie Mercury that is more invested in his journey as an artist than as a queer entertainer. The interesting thing is that it is the film itself which makes this distinction. Not that the film doesn’t address Freddie Mercury’s sexuality, but that it gets it wrong, doesn’t show it explicitly, and vilifies the only other major queer character to the point that he resembles the antagonist of a Disney cartoon. Bohemian Rhapsody is not a film about the bisexual Freddie Mercury, frontman for the band Queen, but a film about a gay singer songwriter who is ashamed of his ethnicity, and desperate for super stardom. The reasons behind screenwriter Anthony McCarten’s choices are unclear, but their effect is detrimental to any positive representation of Mercury as he allegedly was.

Mercury and Queen’s artistry also suffers in the film from a kind of filmic shorthand. It’s almost comical in a way that so many Queen songs seem to just come about in the studio with little or no effort, as if showing an audience the work that goes into an album would bore them. This is indicative of the glib nature with which Singer and company treat their subject as a whole. And I think there is a major distinction between stylization with the purpose of insight (I’m Not There) and just lazy, over sentimental storytelling (Nowhere Boy).