May 21, 2019

"Bohemian Rhapsody" Somehow Makes Freddie Mercury Seem Dull

“There’s probably some rock star out there whose life could only result in a boring biopic. But it takes a certain degree of, um, talent to make a crashingly dull movie about Freddie Mercury, one of the least drab humans who ever lived.

Yet that’s just what director Bryan Singer accomplished in Bohemian Rhapsody — or, well, let’s not be too generous. Singer was by all accounts an unprofessional terror to work with, failing to show up, getting into fights with his actors, and at one point hurling a piece electrical equipment on set, though Fox executives somehow deemed that incident “not actionable.” Eventually, after asking to pause production for several weeks, Singer was fired from the film with a few weeks left to shoot, and Dexter Fletcher finished it, though because of the director’s guild rules, Singer is still its sole credited director.

(Don’t worry: In Hollywood, that kind of behavior, even in concert with long-simmering accusations of sexual harassment and assault, won’t prevent you from landing another high-paying job, provided you’re a guy.)


But even if the stories of Singer’s troubled production weren’t common knowledge when they were happening a year ago, Bohemian Rhapsody, directed from a screenplay by Anthony McCarten, bears all the signs of something having gone awry. What could have been a colorful, imaginative rendering of a talented artist who exulted in being profoundly extra is instead weirdly hollow and plodding. It feels more like a high school skit about Freddie Mercury — albeit one starring Rami Malek — than a movie about the Queen songwriter and frontman.”

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