Actor Rami Malek revives rock icon Freddie Mercury in a bona fide performance

A Hollywood adaptation on the stellar rise to fame of the larger-than-life band Queen and its charismatic frontman Freddie Mercury has been a long time coming, and director Bryan Singer’s biopic is a definite crowd-pleaser. Chronicling the birth of some of the seminal band’s biggest hits with gorgeous backdrops, it sets a frenetic pace, racing from their first demo to their 21-state U.S tour and their unforgettable Live-Aid performance, and, finally, premature demise of Mercury, one of the first and most prominent victims of the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

While the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle – including Mercury’s experimental stages of sexual identity – are inevitably shown, Bohemian Rhapsody, which was initiated and co-produced by bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor, avoids lurid sensationalism to focus on the common value shared by the four piece – family. Mercury’s flamboyance is contrasted with vulnerability in beautifully ardent scenes, like quarrels over the creative process of album productions, or when he comes out to Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) with whom he maintained a grounding relationship in opposition to the lavish, fast lifestyle of his public persona. Previously known for his work in the popular cyberterrorist thriller Mr. Robot, Rami Malek as Mercury is astonishingly authentic, easily inhabiting the role and making viewers forget that the Freddie Mercury onscreen is just an actor.

Perhaps Singer’s portrait of the legendary band isn’t always historically accurate, but the grandiose musical scenes showcase Mercury’s electrifying stage presence, giving die-hard fans a sweet dose of nostalgia while acting as a precious time capsule, maintaining Queen’s stadium-worthy wall of sound for today’s generation to witness.

Starts Oct 31, Haydn Kino, Artis International