Is this the real life, is this just fantasy? Or maybe it’s a bit of both.
I’d heard all the hype and listened to umpteen interviews about Bohemian Rhapsody.
Finally got round to seeing it on the big screen the other week.
And it was ... well, okay.
At the risk of swimming against the tide, the film biog of the late, great Freddie Murcury was good. It was enjoyable, but it didn’t rock me.
And I say that as a lifelong Queen fan.
I can still recall the thrill of listening to their News Of The World album for the very first time and then immersing myself in A Night At the Opera and A Day At The Races.
Okay, the Jazz album was a bit rubbish in places, and the proud “no synths” claim writ large on the back of every album cover started to fade after The Game came out.
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For me, Queen ended when Mercury died.
And when John Deacon, the quiet fella on bass who was so much more than just the quiet fella on the bass walked away into retirement, it ought to have been the end of the road.
I loathed the musical ‘We Will Rock You’ – the guy behind me shouted out “he’s behind you!” before remembering it wasn’t actually a panto, but his comment pretty much summed it the show for me – but this movie appealed.
Mercury’s story is a scriptwriter’s dream – triumph, tragedy, a complex, private man who, on stage, could carry an audience of 80,000 people with majestic style. One of the greatest performers I’ve ever seen live on stage.
Rami Malek recreates his moves, and the closing Live Aid set is genuinely thrilling and a joy to see once more in its entirety, but the movie sticks rigidly to the officially endorsed story – and that let its down.
It shines only half a light on Mercury’s flamboyant character – it needed to have the courage of its convictions to tell us something we didn’t know. It needed to pierce the bubble wrap surrounding the whole project.
Instead it stuck to a story which, at times, felt more like an ITV drama than a film bidding for Oscar status.
And in focussing on Mercury, it painted the three other band members in a dismal shade of grey.
Sure they looked uncannily like John Deacon, Brian May and Roger Taylor, but they were two dimensional and spouted some woeful, cliched lines.
Queen fans will also be irked by the holes in the timeline and the fast and loose approach to the band’s real story - one critic logged some 17 factual errors, some of them pretty big ones too, such as the band never split up, and Mercury divulging to his bandmates he was HIV-positive in the run-up to Live Aid.
Others were just sloppy, such as Queen’s first US tour in 1974 being soundtracked by music from the Jazz album which didn’t come out until four years later.
There is an absorbing, compelling film to be made about Mercury’s life.
I’m not sure this is it, but judge for yourself when it screens at the Adam Smith Theatre on Thursday, February 28.
Ticket info HERE www.onfife.com