Prior to the film’s release there was lots of excitement surrounding it and many expected a film with quality to parallel the recently released ‘A Star is Born’. However, having seen ‘A Star is Born’ and ranking it up amongst my favourites of the year, I held out little hope of the same exceptional levels being reached just a few weeks later from a film I hadn’t invested too much into. Nevertheless, I went to the first available showing of the film at my local Odeon to see where I would fall: on the side of the critics (with a pretty dismal 48/100 on Metacritic and only a 55% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes;) or on the side of the fans (with an incredible 8.4/10 on IMDb– higher than ‘A Star is Born”s 8.3/10.)
What is it about?
Based on the true story of how Smile became Queen, one of the biggest rock bands in history. The film centralises around the eccentric Freddy Mercury and highlights the astounding influence he had on the band’s success. It also dramatises the story behind some of their best known songs, that lead them to tour the around the world. The film’s build up all leads to their incredible performance at Live Aid (1985;) that has left a a legacy akin to that of their songs.
What did I think?
Although I know most of Queen’s hits, I would not in any way suggest that I am a big fan of the band. Therefore, I feel a success of this film was getting me, someone with nothing invested in the story previously, to care about the group and their struggles as it moved forward. Furthermore, because of my limited knowledge of the story, I really took the film as an education and subsequently had a lot of intrigue to gain from the film’s elements of truth. I don’t know how true to the facts this film is; but, I have heard that the remaining members of the group have verified most of it’s narrative. Personally, my favourite sections of this film were the sequences describing the inspirations for the songs. As these built on something I already knew about, they felt more interesting and therefore when the songs were played at concerts further along in the film I felt more intertwined with the group. My emotion in this sense, reached it’s height at the climax of the film with the band’s Live Aid performance. Rami Malek is exceptional as Freddy Mercury; as he really does throw himself into playing the role and from what I have seen and heard of Freddy Mercury it was an adept portrayal. I am certain that he will receive at least an Oscar nomination for his work in this film. Finally, although a lot of the praise has been directed at Malek for his performance, and rightfully so, I also thought that Lucy Boynton was great as Malek’s lover turned friend Mary Austin. The vast share of the emotion within this film comes from the connection between the pair and I felt her acting was pivotal to my response.
Despite the film being enjoyable, the fact it was so long (134 minutes) meant that there were sections I was bored. However, for a film with so much story available; this shouldn’t have been the case. Freddy Mercury is known to be a wild personality and we only saw this in spurts and from a singular perspective (him around the band.) What I thought could have been improved on was committing to the idea of the film being a Freddy Mercury character study; rather than trying to mix this with a general look at the band, (as it tempted us time after time as to something more exciting waiting to be revealed). In this respect I thought it felt too safe and detracted from a lot of the good parts of the film.
My Rating- 6/10
This film was a lot of fun in points and if you are a Queen fan I have no doubt that you will love it. Nevertheless, on too many occasions things didn’t feel quite right and left me with a sense that I hadn’t fully enjoyed it.
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