is actually a Freddy Mercury movie. Despite noises from the other band members, and whatever 20th Century Fox put in the official storyline about it being a Queen movie, it's not. It's about Freddy from his first moment with the band to Live Aid. 3/5 stars if you are or were a Queen fan or like rock fantasies, 2/5 otherwise.
There are really three kinds of things you can say about this movie and I'll say a bit in each category.
1. It's a much more affecting movie than I expected. It's also better than I had feared it would be. A good argument can be made that Rami Malek should get a Best Actor nod for this work. Malek is in virtually every scene, and brings to life a complex, difficult, incredibly charismatic character full of flaws and contradictions. By contrast, the other band members are flat cut-outs, lacking anything like even a backstory.
Whether Malek's character resembles the real Mercury, is faithful to the deceased rock star, or is a terrible distortion is a matter of much debate. Regardless of which thing you believe, Malek sells it. I cried a lot at this movie, much more than I expected to. I'm told that Malek's staged Live Aid performance is shot-for-shot what Mercury did then; my memory is hazy after all this time, but some bits seem very familiar.
2. This movie is a PG-13 telling of a real-life X-rated story. It's impossible to tell a true-to-life version of Mercury's story and retain a PG-13 rating. His drug use is mentioned maybe twice, and seen a couple times but otherwise avoided. The entire gay sex scene of the time is curtained off behind lurid red veils. Most of his relationships are simply elided, leaving him with only two significant relationships in the film. Having multiple overlapping lovers of multiple genders is not a PG-13 story, so there's that.
Much of the criticism I've read of this film falls into the "but they should have made this other movie instead" camp. That's not an unfair thing to say, particularly if you believe that there's no way to be honest and not horribly distort Mercury's life and legacy by making it PG-13. On the other hand, you have to critique the movie that's in front of you and if you accept that it's going to be PG-13, they did a number of things well. You get a rock legend film with some of the greatest rock music of its generation and that is not a thing to take lightly.
3. This movie really does play HORRIBLY fast-and-loose with the characters and events it portrays. There are plenty of public biographies out there and even a cursory reading of a Wikipedia page will tell you that no, that character didn't come into his life there, and no he didn't actually do that thing and to a significant degree this sort of ahistoricity is the film's most damning characteristic. More behind the cut because it's all spoilers from here.( spoiler bits here )
So, yes, Bohemian Rhapsody
plays extremely fast and very loose with historical truth. And yes, a true-er biopic could be made, if you were willing to sacrifice the music because the surviving straight men of Queen won't have it. I'm not sure a Freddy Mercury film would be at all meaningful without the music. So this is the film we got, and it has its truths mixed among its fantasies and like its subject it is complicated and hard to talk about in simple terms.