The late, great Freddie Mercury of Queen is an unforgettable rock frontman and icon to the LGBT community. So when it was announced Bohemian Rhapsody's was in development, fans became excited to see a foot-stomping biopic about the band's classic music that could also start an important conversation of the life of the bisexual celebrity who suffered an untimely death from AIDS. Ahead of Bohemian Rhapsody's release this Friday, many reviews have detailed the film as a sanitized retelling of Queen's story. The film's star, Rami Malek, said he understands the criticism and wish they had explored this aspect of Freddie's life more. In his words:
He had a beautiful relationship with Jim Hutton, and we had a finite period in which we wanted to tell this story. Believe me: There were conversations left and right about how to incorporate more of that story into this film. It was something I pushed for, to be quite honest, as much as possible and repeatedly brought to the attention of producers and directors and everyone who would listen.
Rami Malek has been highly praised for his transformation as the larger-than-life vocalist who had an incredible five-octave range. However, the film perhaps misses an opportunity to tell the complete story of the character by ending it at his 1985 Live Aid performance, the same year he started dating Jim Hutton, who would be his partner throughout his struggle with AIDS until 1991.
Rami Malek revealed his push to include more of this sexuality into the film, but it wasn't a decision up to him. Producer Graham King said his intention was never to make an edgy and "gritty behind-the-scenes drama." He wanted to create crowd-pleasing tribute to Queen's music.
While Bohemian Rhapsody is a lively celebration of the band's rise to fame, critics have called it out for its uninspired storytelling, some even going as far to explain that is takes a "homophobic" and "slut-shaming" approach to Freddie Mercury's sexuality. The biopic focuses heavily on the relationship between the rock star's former fiancée Mary Austin, who discovers midway through the film that he's cheating on her with other men.
Freddie then comes out to Mary as bisexual, to which she corrects him, telling him he's gay. Once the pair break up, Freddie takes up a lifestyle of drinking, drugs and brief indications of his sexual relationships with men, making his newfound openness with his sexuality look like a downfall for the icon and practicing bi-erasure in the eyes of some audiences. Rami Malek continued his comments to USA Today with these words:
Freddie Mercury is a gay icon, and he's an icon for all of us. I hope people do not feel that the film does a disservice to the community, and if it were me, I would've loved to have incorporated more.
Aside from the criticism of Freddie Mercury's sexuality in the film, Bohemian Rhapsody also received mixed reviews from critics due to its lack of focus as it speeds through 15 years of the band's history in its two-hour and 14-minute runtime. CinemaBlend's own Mike Reyes said the movie "educates the audience on the history of Queen and Freddie Mercury in the same way that a Cliff's Notes page would teach a student about the book of their choosing" in his review of the film.
On the up and up, critics agree that the film does an incredible job of showcasing the band's incredible music library, including "We are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You." Bohemian Rhapsody comes to theaters on November 2. You can also find out what else is arriving before the year is over in our 2018 release schedule.