It is not every day that you see a movie that actually changes your long-held opinion of something. I was never much of a fan of Queen’s music but have been won over by Bryan Singer’s soft-centred telling of the band’s story, with the emphasis on its charismatic lead singer, Freddie Mercury. The screenplay is formulaic, to the point of predictability – we meet the boy who is ‘different’, he is taken in by some guys (guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor) who need a new frontman, their career goes from strength to strength, the boy’s ego has him leave the band and descend into a dark period before he then returns in a blaze of glory. We all know beforehand how it ended for Freddie, but Singer does not delve into the lurid details of his subject’s sexual extravagance (or drug taking – only alcohol is consumed). Instead he teases out the intricacies of Freddie’s relationships with the other members of the group, considered by Freddie as ‘family’, lifelong friend and confidant Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and management team (there is a cute in-house joke made when, anticipating Wayne’s World, Mike Myers as a record company exec is told that Bohemian Rhapsody is the sort of song that teenage boys will turn up loud in their car and bang their heads to). Rami Malek nails it beautifully in the lead role – he looks the part, teeth included, and captures all the moves – while Gwylim Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello are more than just support players in the drama. The collaborative nature of music-making is emphasised and the grind of the industry, with its endless touring accompanied by swarms of hangers-on is exposed unflinchingly. But the mood is intensely personal and the brief scenes with Freddie’s mum and dad touch the heart. So that when the finale comes at Wembley Stadium’s Live Aid concert (1985), the effect is overwhelming. We Are the Champions is a total knockout, and Freddie Mercury rules, Okay?
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