- Bryan Singer
- Run Time
- 2 hours and 14 minutes
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould…
I was intrigued by how important the concept of family is in the film about Queen, and for lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) in particular. As with Jesus, it is not blood that makes a family for Freddie Murphy, lead singer of Queen, but something larger—not religion (in Mercury’s case Zoroastrian), but music. His parents Jer (Meneka Das) and Bomi (Ace Bhatti) and sister Kashmira (Priya Blackbur were Parsis, of the Zoroastrian religion, their family having settled in London after being run out of Zanzibar. Freddie himself had been sent to boarding school in India where he had formed a short-lived band. So, when their son for professional reasons changes his given name from Farrokh Bulsar to Freddie Mercury, the parents are not pleased. When he joins a London band as lead singer, he in effect makes his three band mates–Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and bassist John Deacon “Deaky” (Joseph Mazzello) his family, even declaring at one point, “We’re family. We believe in each other. That’s everything.”
The film begins in 1985 with preparations being made for the epic Live Aid concert. A large assortment of great musicians were scheduled to play to a world-wide audience to raise funds for the starving people of Ethiopia. The camera follows Freddie Mercury as he moves through stage hands to reach the stage. Then flashback to 1970 when Freddie is working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport. He goes by his birth name of Farrokh Bulsara, though prefers to be called Freddie. Once he talks his way into a band called Smile, he begins to move from his birth family to his band mates, insisting that they are now his family. His parents, especially his father, take this rather hard.
Driven by Mercury’s music, the family named Queen reaches dizzying heights after Freddy insists that they sell their old van and use the money to produce an album. Bucking record company execs and such who would curtail their experimentation, the band rises to the top, playing in huge stadiums before adoring fans. The fans, judging by the way they sing some of the lyrics and stamp their feet in unison, apparently also feel a part of the family.
During this period Freddie romances Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), a young woman whom he had met on the night that he became lead singer of the band. However, his feelings of bi-sexuality bring their cohabitation to a close—and of course, his coming out shocks his parents. Still, he feels that Mary understands him in a special way, so he provides a house for her close to his so they can see each other and communicate.
Ironically, when he decides to launch a solo career, he tells his upset band members that they are not family after all. His move to Munich to write and compose proves fruitless, bringing the realization that he and his band mates need each other. But will they accept a reconciliation, with the possibility of their playing for the upcoming Live-Aid Concert?
Of course, they do after some hesitation, and, according to a touching scene in the film, the reconciliation extends to Freddie’s birth family who avidly watch the band perform on world-wide television.
Due to the issue of Freddie Mercury’s bi-sexuality, this would be a controversial choice for your next film discussion group at church, although it does lend itself to discussing what constitutes a family. Should the definition be limited by blood, or can there be a wider, as in the coined phrase used by some religious leaders, “kin-dom of God”?
I loved it when agent John Reid said, “So, tell me. What makes Queen any different from all of the other wannabe rock stars I meet?” and Freddie Mercury: says, “Tell you what it is, Mr. Reid. Now we’re four misfits who don’t belong together, we’re playing for the other misfits. They’re the outcasts, right at the back of the room. We’re pretty sure they don’t belong either. We belong to them.” This reminds me of the Galilean, many of whose follower were considered outsiders by the leaders of his society.
As a character study of a great musician who influenced our culture, director Bryan Singer’s film is not to be missed, and yet–. Some have attacked the film as weaving a sanitized fantasy story line around a complicated man who broke all the rules of society. They are probably right, but even some of them like the soundtrack. What thrilling music it is, especially in those scenes involving stadium filled audiences.
This review will be in the January issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.