WORTH A LOOK?: *****
RUN TIME: 2 hours and 14 minutes
WHEN?: released 24/10/18 (UK)
A great deal has been written about the torturous history of this Freddie Mercury biopic but none of the stories are in any way as interesting as what has majestically made its way to the cinema screen.
- Read on for reasons including how Mike Myers has the perfect cameo as a Bo Rhap-hating record exec
We’d not heard of lead Rami Malek before (he is an Arab-American actor who won an Emmy for US TV’s Mr Robot) but he’s just perfect here as the world’s most charismatic rock singer who is simultaneously plagued by crippling shyness and terrible behaviour which becomes indulged to his detriment.
At the very beginning of this movie the iconic 20th Century Fox fanfare is re-imagined in Queen hard rock guitar style and we arrive in London in 1970 where our hero is working at an airport unloading luggage and called ‘Paki’.
He meets bandmates Roger Taylor (an often very funny Ben Hardy) and Brian May (Gwilym Lee uncannily perfectly cast) as they are looking for a lead singer and, as soon as the drummer makes a quip about Mercury’s teeth making him unsuitable, it’s clear that this film will possess a playful sense of humour that makes much of the heartache of what is to come more bearable.
We noticed a Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Crown, Frost/Nixon) story credit and, while we’re not sure everything is entirely accurate historically, we are in safe hands.
1985’s Live Aid performance at the old Wembley Stadium is arguably the band’s defining moment and it book-ends the film here.
The band’s rise is told lovingly with Wayne’s World‘s Mike Myers having a memorable cameo as the record exec who wants more of the material the band has become famous for and refuses to release the six-minute titular song because radio stations won’t play it.
Lucy Boynton plays Mercury’s wife Mary Austin and makes much of a role that requires her to convince that she has fallen in love with a man whose sexuality she guesses before him and means their relationship is doomed ultimately.
There’s strong support elsewhere from Downton Abbey‘s Allen Leech as a bad influence, Aiden Gillan as a greedy manager and Tom Hollander as a loyal lawyer.
But it’s probably the songs you’ve come to hear and the album casts them in a new light with particular prominence given, despite the film’s title, to the joys of We Will Rock You (the relationship the band of misfits had with its fans and how they wanted them to be part of the gig is particularly well explored) and Another One Bites The Dust (and its groundbreaking disco bass line).
Film has curiously struggled to convey the brilliance of rock in the past and yet it seems with the recent release of A Star Is Born and now this, we’re in a somehow regal, golden age. We’re Radio Ga Ga for this film and Malek fully deserves any early Best Actor Oscar buzz.