In a movie review from Time (http://time.com/5440357/bohemian-rhapsody-freddie-mercury-queerness/ ), there are a few sentences I don’t understand.

The sentence is,

Still, looking for nuance in this kind of big-budget biopic is like looking for love on Grindr; it happens, but rarely. Though its direction is credited to a gay man—Singer, who was fired and replaced by Dexter Fletcher during filming—this movie was made to speak to the masses. Its attempt to make Mercury’s story universal isn’t entirely unreasonable, either: He was, after all, a superstar. We’re given enough to piece together how the otherness he felt as a queer and Parsi man positioned him as a champion for outcasts. Bohemian Rhapsody dazzles most consistently during its musical numbers, in which Malek channels the real Mercury with drool-inducing accuracy. Mercury’s charisma was a force of nature, his appeal so widespread as to be an objective truth. That the movie really sings when Mercury does makes Bohemian Rhapsody ultimately shallow but that’s exactly the point. A pivotal scene features Malek’s Mercury explaining to Mary (Lucy Boynton) that onstage, “I’m exactly the person I was always meant to be.”

Does “That the movie sings” mean that the Freddie in the movie sings? If I’m correct, does the full sentence mean that Malek’s Freddy isn’t able to fully convey the attractiveness the real Freddy Mercury has?

  • I will post another question about the review later. I would appreciate it if you could answer.
    – Hidechan
    Dec 22, 2018 at 23:16

2 Answers 2


There is a meaning of "sings" which is "To display fine qualities; to stand out as excellent" (wiktionary). There is wordplay play here, the word "sing" is taking two meanings at once:

The movie really sings (displays fine qualities) when Mercury does (sing, ie when Mercury sings with his voice).

The overall meaning is that the movie is good when Mercury sings, but less good otherwise. Since it is mostly the singing that is good, the movie is not deeply interesting (it doesn't deeply study the personality of Mercury and Queen)

  • Malek doesn't sing. In the parts where his character (Freddie) sings, what you hear is dubbed, a mixture of recordings from Queen master tapes, with additional vocals recorded by a Canadian singer, Marc Martel. Dec 22, 2018 at 23:59

The core idea is that "The movie sings when Mercury sings." The first "sings" is slang for "excel". The second "sings" is literally singing a song. So the review is saying, "[The fact that] the movie [is good] [only] when Mercury is singing makes it shallow."

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