Firth remains in low gear throughout his character’s transition from fuzzy dreamer to desperate schemer to mad transcendental poet. It takes a bit of voiceover to get the job done, but Firth’s steadfast refusal to chew scenery turns out to be the key to his performance
With a filmography stuffed with masterpieces, the Coen brothers’ greatest trick is balancing the ironic commentary on cinema and storytelling with the dramatic impact of compelling human stories well told. And it’s a trick they pull off again and again.
If it doesn’t have the family drama of “Walk the Line” or the psychodrama of “The Doors,” Bohemian Rhapsody does deliver what any music biopic must: convincing characters and some kick-butt simulated concert experiences.
Somewhat courageously, the film’s real focus is not on the obvious villains in this tale of two Americas, but on the absurd contradiction of its liberal hero watching a political apocalypse unfold on his iPhone.
It delivers plenty of exciting action with some CGI-assisted visual flair, from stampeding bison to a starkly beautiful image of a frozen lake with our hero flailing on the wrong side of the ice. Hughes’ efforts to bring emotional drama to the proceedings fall flat, however, relying on coming-of-age clichés that strip the story of any real surprise.