Greenwich Picturehouse is hosting a sing-a-long screening of 2018 Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The film follows the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, from his joining the band in 1970 to their Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985. The screening is taking place on Sunday February 24, just hours before the film may or may not win the five Academy Awards it is nominated for, writes Holly O’Mahony…
Bohemian Rhapsody suffered a troubled production period. The film was first announced in 2010, with Sacha Baron Cohen cast to play the lead role of Mercury. But Cohen backed out of the project in 2013, citing creative differences with the producers. It wasn’t until November 2016 that the role was recast, this time with Rami Malek. The production suffered further problems still; director Bryan Singer walked out before filming was complete, officially because of a family health matter but unofficially because of a falling out with the cast.
Singer was replaced by director Dexter Fletcher but has retained sole director credit for the film, as per Directors Guild of America guidelines. Fletcher, meanwhile, has received an executive producer credit. Singer has since been the subject of sexual assault allegations, a factor contributing to many people’s contempt over the film’s success.
Bohemian Rhapsody was received with mixed reviews on its release in October 2018. It just about scraped favour on Rotten Tomatoes, receiving a 62% rating. Many publications gave it a middle-of-the-road three-star review, but criticised its inaccurate portrayal of Mercury and his fellow band members, and the glossing over of his sexuality and death due to AIDS-related complications. However, the Guardian and the Times each gave the film just two stars, with the Guardian’s Steve Rose deeming it a “Queen-produced rock slog with a troubling moralistic subtext,” adding: “A bolder film might have explored the relationship between Mercury’s hedonism, his mostly closeted sexuality and his on and off-stage personas in a more nuanced way.”
Despite underwhelming the critics, Bohemian Rhapsody smashed box office records and is currently the highest-grossing music biopic of all time. Furthermore, it’s been nominated for no less than five awards at the 91st Academy Awards, which are being held in the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on February 24 (the evening of the afternoon screening at Greenwich Picturehouse). The controversial film is up for: Best Picture, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Actor for Malek. The 37-year-old had his breakthrough role in American drama series Mr. Robot, in which he plays Elliot Alderson, a cybersecurity engineer and hacker with social anxiety disorder.
Following the nomination, Malek tweeted: “Thank you to the Academy for recognizing the work of so many from the cast and crew who made all of this possible. I have absolutely treasured playing Freddie Mercury and I am so profoundly humbled and thrilled to honor him this way.”
Malek has already won the BAFTA for Best Actor and Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture for his portrayal of Mercury. Bohemian Rhapsody also won the BAFTA for Best Sound and Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture at the respective ceremonies earlier this year.
It was even reported by Variety that, in absence of a host for the Oscars, the Academy approached Queen with an offer to open the ceremony with a live performance. Queen reportedly turned down the request.
Politics aside – and regardless of whether Bohemian Rhapsody’s depiction of Mercury’s life is real or just a fantasy – if you’re a slave to Queen, the sing-a-long screening at Greenwich Picturehouse is a chance to belt out your favourite hits.
Bohemian Rhapsody is showing at Greenwich Picturehouse, 180 Greenwich High Road, London SE10 8NN. February 24, at 2:30pm. Admission: £14.50/£13.50 concessions/£8.10 children.