The long awaited Freddy Mercury bipoic opened on Thursday evening in North America to rave reviews. It raced to the top of the weekend’s box office with a projected $35-40 million return. It has beaten out all the other openers this weekend and rightly so. I went to see it in the middle of a split double shift, meaning eight hours on, eight hours off and eight hours on again. I didn’t expect to stay awake throught the whole thing after only a few hours kip but I was rapt with attention throughout.
The film throws up few surprises if any. I saw a few people write that it was predictable and formulaic. I mean, obviously. It’s a biopic of the most popular and most documented frontman in the world. Before the time of smartphones recording our every move, Mercury was in the limelight all the time. Add to the mix that he was a gay man in the ’80s, I think its fair to say that a lot of what he did musically and personally is already well known. Despite this lack of surprise, the movie keeps the viewers attention through witty interactions between the band, tense moments towards the end of the movie and of course, an astounding soundtrack. It helps that the soudtrack is all the band’s catalogue. That band being Queen, in case anyone didn’t know.
Rami Malek is Freddy Mercury. I don’t mean that he is the actor playing the icon, I mean that in this film he IS Freddy Mercury. He inhabits the character and sometimes you almost forget that it isn’t Mercury playing himself with actors surrounding him. That said, Gwilyn Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor and Joseph Mazzelo as John Deacon are all fantastic. Aiden Gillen, Allen Leech and Aaron McCusker are three major Irish talents who star in the movie. Gillen has the same raspy voice as every other character he plays, being John Reid, Queen manager, in this film. Leech, of Downton Abbey fame, plays Paul Prenter, a long-lurking snake in the grass. McCusker plays Mercury’s final love, Jim Hutton. All three put in sound performances with Leech excelling as the slimy Prenter who is intent on playing Freddy against his family, the band.
I listen to Joe.ie and their film review podcast which is very good. They thought that the film was bad and cheesy and only people who didn’t know the full history of queen would enjoy the film as a whole, and not just Malek’s performance. Even though I can see where they are coming from I have to disagree. The film might be a bit jumpy and the early parts of the film seem a bit cheesy but as a whole, the film is very good.
The film comes to an end after the epic 20-minute finale, an almost identical replica of the Live Aid set that Queen performed. Instead of depicting his final years in which he was ravaged by AIDS, some screen caps explain that he died in 1991 and that a charity was set up in his honor to help AIDS victims worldwide. This is extremely fitting as a half an hour before, Mercury, after telling his band and friends that he has the dreaded disease, says, “I will not be their poster boy, their cautionary tale…”. Instead of showing him at his weakest, we see him go out on that incredible high of performing to billions of people all around the world and holding them in a trance like only Freddy Mercury could.
On a related note, are films coming out earlier in Ireland than America? Thought it would be the other way around. On another related note, I’ve been blasting Queen all day and night after watching the film. Shout out to my music teacher Ms. Lucey for introducing us to A Night at the Opera. On an unrelated note, I’m absolutely wrecked and want to sleep for a thousand years.