‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘At Eternity’s Gate’, and how familiarity can influence how we view biopics

Posted on November 24, 2018

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Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/bohemian-rhapsody-at-eternitys-gate-and-how-familiarity-can-influence-how-we-view-biopics-5609411.html

The Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, made me recall many dramas about singers, but for different reasons. I enjoyed this film flaws and all. It didn’t bother me much that Freddie’s decision to pursue a solo career is treated by his fellow band mates with the kind of incredulity that suggests they’ve never heard of John Lennon. It didn’t bother me much that Freddie’s gay friends (and boyfriend) are all painted with the same unsympathetic brush. It didn’t bother me much that the songwriting seems so easy, that hits seem to roll off the practice sessions like magic. All because the music kept coming. Music I knew. Music I grew up with. Music that, combined with nostalgia, reduced me to an emotional puddle. One huge plus can compensate for many smaller minuses.

It’s very different while watching the biopics on, say, Édith Piaf. The most famous one, of course, is Olivier Dahan’s La Vie en rose (2007), with Marion Cotillard as Piaf. There’s also Claude Lelouch’s Édith et Marcel (1983 ), which focuses on the relationship between Piaf (Évelyne Bouix) and the already-married boxer Marcel Cerdan (played, curiously, by his real-life son, Marcel Cerdan Jr.; this is surely the only time a son has re-enacted the love affair that broke up his parents’ marriage). Vincent Canby, in the New York Times, sniffed that the director “doesn’t just photograph Edith and Marcel. Their every appearance in this film amounts to a celebration, which often makes the camera so giddy that it sweeps in great dizzy circles around them…”

Continued at the link above.

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