Bohemian Rhapsody (12A)****

IT has taken longer to put together than Brexit, with almost as many hissy fits and changes of personnel, but Bohemian Rhapsody finally had its world premiere last night in London. After eight years, was it ready, Freddie?

That depends on what you are expecting. At times, Bryan Singer’s biopic of Freddie Mercury and Queen is cringe-inducingly cheesy and more in-your-face obvious than the bulge in Mercury’s too tight jeans. Far from being faults, those are the things that make the picture so enjoyable. Those, and the songs. Wow: the songs.

The tale begins in 1985, with Queen the first act at Live Aid. The band’s guitarist, Brian May, was worried they would look like old crocks, but the foursome triumphed. Their royal naffnesses became kings again. One expects this movie, produced by May and drummer Roger Taylor among others, will have much the same effect, not least in boosting record sales.

From Live Aid, Singer (who took over from Dexter Fletcher as director, only for Fletcher to return when Singer left) rewinds to 1970 when a toothy baggage handler named Farrokh Bulsara met two pub rockers in need of a singer. As stardom becomes superstardom faces come and go, including Glaswegian manager John Reid (played by Aiden Gillan, who sounds about as Weegie as Bob Geldof). One constant in Mercury’s life is his friend Mary (Lucy Boynton). While the film focuses heavily on their relationship, it also covers, in a 12A certificate way, his life as a gay man.

American actor Rami Malek took on the Freddie role after Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw decided it was not for them. A brave move, and one that pays off handsomely. While Bohemian Rhapsody takes a rosy view overall of Mercury, it also shows he could be cruel and selfish.

The scenes with the band in the studio are among the film’s finest. There are some gloriously Spinal Tap moments, particularly during the recording of the title song. “Who even is Galileo?” shouts an exasperated Taylor as he is told to sing higher and higher. Almost every big hit is given room to breathe, exactly as fans would wish.

We see what Mercury meant when he described the band to Reid as four misfits who did not belong together playing to other misfits. Somehow, despite the odds, it worked. Rather like this crazy little picture.