The Freddie Mercury biopic has been cooking up since 2010. Originally meant to be a Sacha Baron Cohen and David Fincher collaboration, the biopic’s direction had shifted into the hands of the remaining members of Queen. This led to Baron Cohen leaving the project due to artistic disagreements, envisioning a much more adult version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Eventually, Anthony McCarten’s screenplay was green-lit with Bryan Singer (ugh) attached to direct. Soon they found Mercury in Rami Malek, as well as some reforms after Singer was fired from the project, some backlash for the lack of inclusion of the AIDs crisis, and accusations of “de-queering” Mercury’s depiction the film (more ugh)! It’s almost impressive that a project with such an infamously-controversial development stage could amount to a film this dull.
But here we are. Bohemian Rhapsody, despite a mixed critical reception, hit the #1 spot of the box office, making an estimated $50 million dollar earning. Somehow, this has only sparked more controversy as a quite irritating critics-versus-audiences conversation has formed once again. I think we have bigger things to worry about, considering the director credit has gone to an accused pedophile (he is currently being campaigned for by Fox for best director as part of the upcoming awards season). Simply put, this film already gave me a headache before I even got the chance to see it. Dubbed the “unseasoned chicken” of cinema by our editor-in-chief, Dilara, and writer, Iana, Bohemian Rhapsody is not only the blandest on-screen version of Mercury’s extravagant life possible, but it also does a major disservice to the gay and bi men who have looked up to the idol since the 80s. While the “de-queering” criticism may be slightly hyperbolic as Mercury’s sexuality is a large thread within the film, it is not handled with the amount of care to be worthy of high praise.
Trigger warning: Bryan Singer, sexual assault, sexual abuse against minors.
This essay is by our guest writer, Lindsay Miller.
It was announced a few days ago that Bryan Singer would be receiving directing credits for the upcoming Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic, despite being fired three months into principal photography due to his “unexpected availability” on set. And while his replacement, Dexter Fletcher, directly expressed not wanting the credits himself in an interview last month, this brings up yet another issue in the ongoing saga that I like to call: Bohemian Rhapsody Hell.
I was not planning on seeing this movie before this news was announced. I love Queen and I love Rami Malek, but nothing about this project really seemed to spark my interest besides the awesome photos of Malek in that Mercury Mustache™ . It just kinda seemed like the standard music biopic that comes out once a year to pretty good reviews but is then altogether forgotten in six weeks time. It is rare for movies of this nature to transcend the border of mediocrity, either due to the film itself or because of poor marketing. When both elements are seemingly in sync, you get a hit like Walk The Line or Ray but when one of them fails, you get duds like CBGB.
To many, Bohemian Rhapsody seems to be on the fast track to success thanks to Malek’s casting (“Somebody just give Rami his Oscar already”) and the overall attention the movie is getting from the media. But despite my overall apathy, I really cannot bring myself to support this film in theaters for one reason and one reason only: Bryan Singer.
To celebrate Pride Month, here is a list of all the upcoming LGBTQ films you can expect to see on a cinema screen near you. All descriptions are from press materials.
June 8 – HEART BEATS LOUD dir. Brett Haley
The film follows Sam during her last summer at home before she leaves for UCLA. She lives with her father, Frank, who runs a record store in Brooklyn. Together, they bond while playing and writing music together in their living room. And Sam doesn’t let the impending cross-country move stop her from having a summer fling.
Starring: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Sasha Lane, Toni Collette