The movie starts out in 1970 with young Freddie Bulsara (Rami Malek), who is a college student and baggage handler at Heathrow airport, seeing a band live and meeting them after the show. The band, at this point only guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) after their original lead singer and bassist just dropped out, can quickly be convinced that Freddie should be their new voice. Add bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazello) and Queen is born. In the same night, Freddie also meets Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and they start dating.
They play local gigs all over the UK, sell Rogers van to get the money necessary to record an album and almost immediately land a contract with EMI records. Freddie legally changes his name to Freddie Mercury. While his mother and sister seem to be pretty supportive, his father is having none of all of this. Freddie proposes to Mary, who he lives with at this point.
On their first very successful U.S. tour, he begins to realize he is also attracted to men.
From then on we follow the band (but mostly Freddie) through the centuries, through their different songwriting processes (for Bohemian Rhapsody as much as for Another One Bites The Dust or We Will Rock You), different hairstyles, Freddies coming-out to and break up with Mary, Freddie becoming more and more extravagant, Freddie going solo, and ultimately, the reconciliation of the band for the legendary Life Aid concert in 1985, shortly after Freddie learned that he has AIDS.
I don't want to give away too many details because this is a movie that you should see yourself. That much in advance.
I want to say: I love this movie a lot. I laughed, I cried, I did both at the same time, as did my friends who went to see it with me. It was big and bold and beautiful. I think, to us poor souls who haven't spend a single second of being alive at the same time as Freddie Mercury, this is the closest thing that we can get to seeing Queen live on stage.
There are several aspects I liked especially, first of all, the portrayal of not one musical mastermind but four who complement each other - something people who are not die-hard Queen fans might not be too aware of. Seeing the process of songs like the ones mentioned above has its very own magic.
Another thing was the portrayal of Freddie Mercury's sexuality. Opinions diverge on the question whether he was gay or bisexual, and while this was a huge point for criticism in other reviews, I personally like that this question was not answered completely throughout the movie - simply because Freddie never truly answered the question himself. Which one it truly was is a secret he took to his early grave. However, we still get a great portrayal of a queer character who can be read as gay or bi or something without a defining label, but definitely queer. That said - even with his AIDS infection, there is no pity porn in this movie. He is not defined by his queerness alone, he is not struggling because of his queerness alone, it is made just as much a deal of as necessary when you make a movie about Freddie Mercury, not too much, not too little. It felt very healthy that way.
Coming to speak of portrayal, I am a massive fan of the cast. Just look at this:
They look so incredibly alike! This is one A-plus cast! I am in awe! Even if they didn't make an effort to play their roles properly, this is Queen! Big applause for this cast!
Last but not least, I have read a good portion of criticism regarding the portrayal of the bands (read: not only Freddies) excessive parties including a shitload of drugs and a shitload of sex. To be honest, I think the movie hinted towards that a good bit without showing too much, and I think that makes it more accessible for everyone to watch, so that's a good thing! The way I saw this movie, it wasn't at all swept under the carpet that these guys were no saints, it just wasn't shown too explicitly, and that's ok because not everyone wants to see that kind of things.
To be honest, I think this movie might be worth some awards, and I really hope that it becomes a legend as well, just as Queen themselves.