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Non-Review Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody is more invested in being a fairly standard music biopic than with being a slightly more specific Queen biopic.

There’s a weird sense of familiarity that runs through Bohemian Rhapsody, which has nothing at all to do with its central characters and everything to do with the kind of story that it is telling. If anything, Bohemian Rhapsody will appear completely foreign and alien to dedicated fans of Queen, or anybody with even a passing knowledge of the bad’s history and discography. Instead, it will feel most comforting and familiar to the aficionados of the old tried-and-true biographical feature film formula memorably lampooned by Walk Hard.

Spotlighting its subject.

Bohemian Rhapsody repeatedly brushes up against conflicts between history as it occurred and the rhythms of that standard narrative template. In every single case, Bohemian Rhapsody chooses to side with the narrative template rather than the historical record. It is debatable whether there is anything inherently wrong with this, to be fair. This sort of film-making is an act of adaptation. It is often necessary to conflate, distort of fabricate events in order to convey an essential truth about some real-life person or character, because real life is not a narrative, despite best efforts to impose one upon it.

However, it is one thing to manipulate or distort the finer details of a narrative to hint at a deeper truth. It is another thing entirely to warp reality to fit an assembly blueprint that reveals next to nothing about any of its subjects.

A pale reflection of the man himself.

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