So I watched Tick, Tick…Boom!
I have to say I do enjoy the comfort and convenience that being able to watch new movies in my living room provides. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older; maybe I’m tired of losing an arm and a leg every time I have to pay for popcorn at the theatre. That being said, the feeling of immersion a cinema provides can’t be replicated at home. Not all movies need this (or in fact, deserve it) but this is one of those films that I wished I could have seen at the cinema because it is magic and deserved a big screen.
Okay, basic plot: Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) is an aspiring musical theatre writer who has been struggling for several years to get his original musical – Superbia – produced. His obsession with turning his musical dream into reality is kicked into overdrive in the week leading up to his thirtieth birthday. Larson is convinced that he needs to achieve success before he’s thirty if his dreams are to mean anything. He devotes everything to his musical, wrecking several personal relationships along the way all in an effort to be the future of musical theatre.
This movie is brilliant! It’s difficult to choose which of its qualities to praise first but let’s begin with what I feel is its most important – Andrew Garfield. Garfield shines in this piece. His performance is as close to perfection as acting can be. His performance is consistent, well-measured and above all else, absolutely convincing. There is never a moment where you doubt that he is the character that he’s portraying. His depiction seems effortless but that’s a testament to the amount of work he put into creating his interpretation of the character. I have to say I was also impressed with his singing. The intensity and passion he brings to the character is mirrored in his musical performances. He dominates the musical setpieces and it looks like he’s having a great time doing it. Definitely deserving of all the award hype swarming over this role.
The next best thing about this movie has to a tie between Lin Manuel Miranda’s direction and Steven Levenson’s script. If Garfield’s performance is a monument to the life of Jonathan Larson then Miranda and Levenson are the sturdy foundation upon which it is built. Biographical films can often be long-drawn-out affairs that try to condense the infiniteness of a person’s life into a two hour experience. Tick, Tick…Boom! avoids this by rather focusing on a limited period in Larson’s life and showing you how this defined him. It reminded me a great deal of Aaron Sarkin’s Steve Jobs. Concise and focused while still giving you a glimpse into the life experiences that shaped the man in question. It’s during the musical set-pieces that Miranda’s influence truly sparkles. The songs buzz with magic and spontaneity and Miranda presents them in the best possible way to let their magic shine through.
Now I’ve praised Garfield’s acting, and rightly so, as he is the heart and soul of this film; but his fellow castmates are no slouches. Robin de Jesús who stars as Michael – Larson’s best friend – delivers a captivating supporting role that had me wishing he had more scenes and definitely more musical numbers. There’s also a host of cameos from famous Broadway stars who appeared in Larson’s work, most notably Rent.
Overall, Tick, Tick…Boom! is everything you want a biography to be. It offers a glimpse into the life of an extraordinary human being. It does deviate from real life a bit and I think is all the more better for it. It made me want to learn more about Larson and definitely made me want to go see Rent. 8/10