I’ve been writing about the Freddie Mercury movie since my first days at LaineyGossip. Back then, it was a Sacha Baron Cohen vehicle. Then he dropped out, and Rami Malek took over. After that, coverage of this project took a turn as Bryan Singer was named on the Hollywood Predator Advent Calendar and got fired from directing the movie (for totally unrelated reasons that had nothing to do with a brand new lawsuit being filed against him, they insist). Before the sh*t hit the fan, though, we got a look at Malek as Mercury, and it wasn’t bad.And now we have a teaser for the movie, officially titled Bohemian Rhapsody, and it is also not bad. Filming was completed by Dexter Fletcher (director of Eddie the Eagle), though Singer retains a directing credit—for now—which suggests they didn’t reshoot much, if any, of his footage (unlike Solo which reshot enough material for Ron Howard to become the director of record). So despite considerable upheaval during production, it looks like Bohemian Rhapsody was successfully pulled out of the fire.
What I like most about this teaser is how it acknowledges that no matter how much you include the other members of Queen, the simple reality is Freddie Mercury overshadows everything. This teaser is heavy on Malek-as-Mercury, and prominently features Queen’s music and, above all, That Voice. Malek is singing for the film, but they’re also using Mercury’s actual vocals and a “sound-alike” to recreate Mercury’s vocals, and the result is something almost but not quite like Freddie Mercury—you can definitely tell when Mercury’s real voice punches through the soundtrack. (I still don’t know why they don’t just entirely use Mercury’s vocals, but whatever.) But the effect is a little goose-bumpy, especially as Malek swaggers across screen with Freddie’s brashness and confidence. Maybe he doesn’t look so much like Freddie Mercury, but he’s got It, right? He’s got the movement and the spark. That’s the most important part. When Freddie took the stage, you couldn’t look away, and you can’t look away from Malek when he’s on screen.
Bohemian Rhapsody is slated in prime award season real estate, in early November. That’s probably a fall festival premiere (Venice for flash, followed by Telluride and/or TIFF for muscle), and figure on a LOT of Rami Malek on the press circuit, because clearly, right now, he’s the easy favorite for award odds—doing a good impression of a famous musician is almost a guaranteed nomination. I’m still ambivalent about a Queen movie that doesn’t want to portray Freddie Mercury’s life as fully and realistically as he deserves—the internet is upset but it’s not new information that the movie will end before Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS; that has always been the intention and it significantly decreased my excitement for this movie. But I am 100% in Rami Malek’s corner. He took on an enormous task with this role, and he did it through considerable director drama, and from the little bit we see here, he pulled it off.