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‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Sees Mixed Reviews as Critics Praise Rami Malek

It turns out if anybody can find them somebody to love in the biographical musical film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it’s star Rami Malek and his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Across the board, critics have praised Malek’s performance as one of the year’s best, while panning some of the film’s otherwise lackluster qualities, like its sanitization of Mercury’s sexuality and failure to live up to iconic band’s electrifying essence. Reviewers also noted the film’s behind-the-scenes tumult, with Malek replacing Sacha Baron Cohen, and Dexter Fletcher taking over as director. Bryan Singer, who was fired midway into the shoot after leaving the production without authorization, still retains the directing credit.

Read what critics have to say below:

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman:

“So with a performance as commanding as Rami Malek’s at its center, why isn’t ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ a better movie? Despite its electrifying subject, it’s a conventional, middle-of-the-road, cut-and-dried, play-it-safe, rather fuddy-duddy old-school biopic, a movie that skitters through events instead of sinking into them. And it treats Freddie’s personal life — his sexual-romantic identity, his loneliness, his reckless adventures in gay leather clubs — with kid-gloves reticence, so that even if the film isn’t telling major lies, you don’t feel you’re fully touching the real story either.”

IGN’s Jim Vejvoda:

Popular on Variety

“Bohemian Rhapsody was always going to be utterly reliant on whoever played Freddie Mercury and, fortunately, Rami Malek is more than up to the task, capturing the magnetism of the operatic, often campy performer. Offstage, his contrasting mix of vulnerability and self-assurance keeps the viewer invested in Freddie the character and in the movie even when the script is going through its cliche rise and fall of a rock star motions. Expect Malek to earn a lot of awards season buzz for his flashy performance here.”

USA Today’s Brian Truitt:

“Other than a solid job by Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) as magnetic frontman Freddie Mercury, a few exciting musical sequences and a couple of moments of actual greatness, the film is mostly a paint-by-numbers behind-the-music journey through the ups and downs of the iconoclastic British rock band.”

The Guardian’s Steve Rose: 

“A bolder film might have explored the relationship between Mercury’s hedonism, his mostly closeted sexuality and his on and off-stage personas in a more nuanced way. … Bohemian Rhapsody honors Mercury the showman but never really gets to Mercury the person.”

US Weekly’s Mara Reinstein: 

Using gusto and soul, the actor delivers one of the most outstanding performances of the year. And he single-handedly turns the formulaic biopic Bohemian Rhapsody into a riveting character piece.

Digital Spy’s Ian Sandwell:

“You don’t come away feeling like you know more about Queen or how they came up with their biggest hits, while not enough time is devoted to Mercury’s life to make you feel like you know more about him either. However, this could be a minor issue for a Queen fan going to the cinema just to see the story of their favorite band play out on the big screen. It’s very much an ode to Queen and the boundless talent of Mercury and, to that end, it succeeds.”

Entertainment Tonight’s John Boone:

“There’s a version of Bohemian Rhapsody that is maybe a little darker, a little deeper, that may cover less ground, overall — I’d love to see a movie that’s just about the year or so immediately leading to Live Aid (undeniably the best, most thrilling sequence in the movie) — but as is, it plays like a Greatest Hits album. … It’s big and shiny and loud and, certainly, there is enjoyment to be had along the way, but, unlike a standard album, there aren’t any risks or surprises and there are no deep cuts.”

 

 

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