It’s been 11 years, since I first broke the news in Greece of a ‘Freddie biopic’ in the making. Been waiting for this movie, in many ways: as a writer, an artist and of course as a fanboy. Since then my appreciation for Freddie Mercury’s artistry only grew: an ever-inspiring, irreplaceable composer, performer, one of the greatest vocalists of all time.
I can’t imagine a future without Freddie’s and Queen’s legacy still vibrant, masterfully made and all-inspiring, (at least until the world crosses out of this stupid modern hip-hop-filled mainstream ‘music’ shit-pit).
This, a Freddie biopic, is another step on the ladder, the latest Freddie/Queen related project/product for now.
To be honest, I didn’t expect much – I expected the worst. But it turned out interesting.
So, is it good? Not a simple answer on that. Spoiler alert.
It’s October 29, 2018, center of Athens, Greece. Most of the cinema-critics come out of the theater raving after the preview of the movie. I feel a little perplexed but not unpleased. Actually I’m happy for this good reception. But. There’s the good news and there’s the bad.
I will start with the good ones.
Rami Malek’s work is impressive and it will stick around as a good, or even great performance. Energetic and willing to deliver (most of) the goods, I think he suffers on the “live on stage’ scenes, except the “close-enough-to the-original” Live Aid scenes.
The ‘news’ of this movie is bringing out some of the “behind the scenes” Freddie Mercury. The ‘human’, the ‘private’ Freddie equally to the artist. That’s where Malek succeeds and the movie gives something valuable. Mind you: he’s not well educated on Freddie! You never see him bringing his hand in front of his mouth when laughing, for example – a very common move of Freddie.
If you watch any ‘behind the scenes’ footage on youtube, or Freddie Mercury’s interviews etc, there’s minimum resemlance in movements and expressions.
Instead, he gives his own interpretation – I’m not blown away by his delivery but I like what he did. His driving force makes the movie worth watching through.
Certain specks of the ‘true storyline’ come out to restore the memory of some events: the hardest task of the movie, successfully worked-out, more or less. The Mary Austin lifetime affair in close focus, some of the in-band relationships’ facts, the Bulsara (Freddie’s) family.
All, too politely touched.
For the big majority of possible viewers it’s a movie that can breed an Oscar nomination, a high point for Malek rising to the challenge, a worthy cinema take on a music icon, etc.
Freddie Mercury:painting sketch and handmade mosaic by Nasos Kavathas
“So you think you can stop me and spit in my eye?..”
Now, ten hours after (viewing the movie) I’d say that, yes, Malek did a decent job, but I still believe it could have been done better! There’s a lot of Freddie footage out there to get notes from. Most of the rest of the characters are just ‘cardboard’ caricatures – maybe only Brian May depiction is of any significant notice.
It’s another music biopic clearly done by-the-numbers, over-simplistic here and there, with lots of inconsistencies to the original story. In its worse moments it’s almost of a ‘tv-movie’ quality, totally unrealistic and superficial. The first hour or so is of a very fast pace: like a sped-up documentary, forced to include essential information – or what everybody involved thought as ‘essential’.
The second part of the movie gets more focused on some key moments. It breaths better.
Actually: if the movie started around the 1 hour mark, you’d get a shorter but more accurate and successful final result.
The large Live Aid sequence is carefully worked out, even with its own directorial flaws.
Concluding: there’s timeline mistakes throughout the movie, too many to mention, (many of them could be avoided!). It’s too “safe” a movie for such an extravagant character in its center.
But, strangely, it works.
It works mostly for the majority, the people that know the obvious anthems and hits or the people that ‘just heard about’ Freddie and Queen. I’ve seen worse music biopics!
Strangely, through Malek’s interpretation you finally get the triumphant and sad story of a sensitive, charismatic artist-turned-icon, some of the inner drama of his life, the loneliness inside the golden cage he made for himself.
“Nothing really matters..”
Think about this one: Can you name a really good biopic?
There’s a certain ‘sterile’ way they make ’em – they all look alike!
You can’t fit Freddie Mercury’s life in two and a half hours.
After all is said and done, I like the fact that a young movie star on the rise is doing a good job bringing Freddie to the masses again, already favoured for Oscars, Golden Globes and other golden shit. (Anyway, they’ll probably choose the all-american fable of Neil Armstrong stepping -or not!- on the moon (or Kubrick’s studios!).
My last tip: I would gladly go see Queen featuring Malek lip-synching than go watch ’em live in concert with that embarrassing ‘american-idol’ nobody.