Bohemian Rhapsody starring Rami Malek; rated PG-13
–Review by Ashley Davis
Bohemian Rhapsody beautifully tells the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen, and is a perfect example of EPIC (experiential, participatory, image-rich, connected). I saw it in the theater a few days ago—I cried several times and loved watching the people sitting in front of me dance and sing along through parts of the movie.
Keep in mind this biopic wasn’t a documentary. I haven’t done all the research to know what was “fact or fiction” and there have been a lot of mixed reviews on that point, so I’m going to keep my comments to the movie itself here.
Queen set an amazing example of subversive, EPIC creativity. They didn’t care what the established system of power (the record label) wanted; their mission was to reach other people who felt marginalized and forgotten, and to create a family with them through music. They lose some of their effectiveness and magic when they sell out to “the man” (more on that in a minute). We can easily see the metaphor here—as those who commune with the Creator of the Universe, we should be channeling that creativity and making some of the best EPIC art in the world, living subversively to that which offers us an illusion of power and control.
The church can also learn from Freddie’s relationship with Paul. Although he seems like a benign side character at first, Paul is a classic malignant narcissist—he sees Freddie’s vulnerabilities and talent, and finds subtle ways to begin using Freddie for his own gratification. Paul saw that Freddie was searching for identity, and seized the opportunity to reel Freddie in to propel himself further. Paul groomed Freddie, and Freddie gave in to what turned out to be empty promises of power and fulfillment. Freddie ends up terribly isolated and entrapped in the lie. Freddie does eventually see the truth and confronts Paul about his gaslighting in a scene that captures the full emotion of what it is like to break free of a narcissist.
Later Freddie makes amends with the band and takes ownership for the mistakes he made while Paul was in control of his life, and we get to see some beautiful redemptive moments through the Live Aid concert. Regardless of how some people might view his morality or personal life, Freddie’s humility, strength, and originality are a true inspiration.
Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury is remarkable to say the least. Bohemian Rhapsody tells a compelling story, the music is spectacular, and the relationship dynamics we see on screen are very relatable. Even if you aren’t a fan of Queen or are put off by the issues with historical accuracy, I highly recommend you see this film.