Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, Allen Leech

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Rating: 1 2 3 4 and a half

I was first introduced to the music of Queen when I was thirteen, and a friend from school was taken to see the band on the Magic tour. From that moment on (it seemed) banging on the desks and shouting 'We Will Rock You' became an almost daily pre-registration occurrence, along with prancing up and down the aisles chanting a made-up song that went 'I'm a Chinese dragon, I am Freddie Mercury.' (No, I don't know what it meant either.)

Five years later, when Freddie went up to the great big glittery stadium in the sky, I felt, fresh at university and away from family and old school friends, weirdly bereft.

So while I've never actually seen Queen live, I've long felt a kind of connection to them. Well, me and about two billion other people, as Bohemian Rhapsody, the long-awaited band biopic, so movingly proves.

Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joe Mazzello are Queen in Bohemian Rhapsody

The film begins with Farouk/Freddie Bulsara (Papillon's Rami Malek) working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport, wearily suffering racist jibes from his colleagues as he piles up cases from foreign lands he can only dream of seeing. But Freddie's real life is in music, and when a college band he admires lose their lead singer, he sees his chance and takes it. The young aspiring star's astonishing vocal range and preposterously strutting stage presence soon escalate the band (consisting, of course, of curly-wigged guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), fresh-faced drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy, aka Peter from off of EastEnders) and unassuming bassist John Deacon (Joe Mazzello)) from student union bar regulars to record company hot property.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

The history of a meteoric rise to superstardom, a story that soars giddily from riotous excess (hinted at rather than hammered home) to hollow heartache and loneliness via monstrous ego battles, selfish mistakes and a great deal of quirky British humour, all clothed in gloriously OTT velvet, leather and spandex and bewigged with increasingly bonkers barnets.

A story that we both know and don't know, and which culminates in what, for me, is one of the absolute best and most joyously uplifting endings in cinema. Let's just say I can't wait for this to become one of those 'singalonga' movies...

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

Okay, so there are a few actors doing impressions here rather than acting ('Bob Geldof' is particularly comical) but thankfully Rami Malek isn't one of them. His Freddie is wonderfully observed, a sensitive and serious portrait of a complicated, multi-faceted and often unhappy genius. I'm excited to see what this versatile actor does next.

At times I wanted the film to fly a little higher, to be a bit more Velvet Goldmine and a bit less BBC4 documentary, particularly when the band are recording their audacious masterpiece 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in a rural studio in the middle of nowhere. (Freddie scribbles down some lyrics. 'Hmm, that's good,' he says.) But as the film reaches its climax you realise there's no need for made-up magic realism in this movie – Freddie and the band themselves have all the magic required.

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