Tick, Tick… BOOM!
Time is running out for aspiring composer Jon (Andrew Garfield) to write the pivotal song for the musical he’s dedicated eight years of his life to, before its presentation. Meanwhile, his 30th birthday looms ahead of him. A metronomic ticking counts down the seconds until these crucial deadlines as the pressure mounts. What follows is a bombastic and tender musical about the difficulties that come with following one’s dreams. The film is likewise a loving tribute to the legendary Jonathan Larson, whose tragic death has retrospectively given his own musical a new layer of meaning.
Lin-Manuel Miranda turns his hand to directing the adaptation of the autobiographical musical of the same name by Larson. In line with Larson’s original show, Miranda’s film anchors itself in an intimate stage performance that sees Garfield on piano being supported by a small rock ensemble (including Vanesa Hudgens and Joshua Henry on vocals) as he recounts his story. Not much needs to be said about how extraordinarily exceptional Larson’s music is; the playfully discordant riff that begins the opening track instantly ensnares viewers in its vivacious tone.
Garfield’s astounding musical talent must be praised: not only can he sing with expressive personality, but his voice has the power to hold viewers’ unwavering attention as he lays everything bare. Nowhere is the more evident than in his moving rendition of Why, this musical’s emotional core. The supporting cast likewise shine just as brightly, with Robin de Jesus stealing the spotlight on occasion. Hudgson’s vocals are also spectacular, though her role is smaller than the marketing has suggested. Not all tracks are made equal, though. The genre shift in Play Game makes for an unappealing musical diversion more than anything else.
In addition to the musicality, Larson’s musical excels and inspires through its romantic depiction of New York bohemia. Jon and his friends live in almost complete poverty. His apartment is falling apart, he can barely keep the lights on, but he’s able to create music. This microcosm of artists is a creative paradise, and Miranda (through Larson’s score) takes the beauty, love and passion of this world and puts it on the screen so that viewers, too, can share in Larson’s dreams. Tick, Tick… BOOM! captures why artists create art, and it’s a message many will relate to or be inspired by.
Tick, Tick…BOOM! is released on Netflix on 19th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for Tick, Tick… BOOM! here: