Tick, Tick... Boom!
Akash Kumar Saha
The new musical from director Lin-Manuel Miranda offers a look into the life of Jonathan Larson, the composer/lyricist who would go on to change the path of musical theaters forever. The trailer looked promising and soon after its release on Netflix, it created quite a buzz.
Story, direction and music
‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ is an autobiographical musical which focuses on a pivotal time in Larson’s life — he is about to turn thirty next week. Most of his idols achieved success before this age. So with no savings and promising job at hand, Larson feels like being driven by ‘fear, rather than love’. He has been working on his dystopian musical ‘Superbia’ for almost 8 years now and even though its workshop is coming up, the hope of a breakthrough is rather dim. His circle of friends, especially Michael and Larson’s girlfriend Susan are supportive of his decisions and feel that he is way above mediocre. But all Larson can hear is the ticking of the clock– his time is running out. ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ tries to depict the essential struggle of an inspired artist searching for a big break.
The story is told through Larson’s musical with the same name. The film has a moderate pace. The visuals are good. The story is set in 1990 and the film adequately captures that time frame. The back and forth between Larson’s live performance and his story is done flawlessly. The movie also tries to show the horrors of the AIDS epidemic in New York at that time. This adds on to the sense of mortality that runs through its veins.
As with all the movies of this genre, ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ is driven by musical storytelling. Larson’s original creations capture the joy and pain of the protagonist throughout the movie. Miranda himself was inspired by Larson’s work at a very young age and so ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ comes from a place of deep love and respect. This is a piece of delight for any music lover.
Andrew Garfield plays the character of Jonathan Larson in the movie. Garfield has always been a capable actor but here he comes with all guns blazing. He is the heart and soul of this movie and the way he embodies each of the minute details of this deeply troubled character, is simply amazing. Garfield has also given vocal performance for all the bits and that makes up for a genuine cinematic experience. Robin de Jesús, who plays Larson’s best friend Michael, also deserves special mention. Rubin shines bright in his small yet significant role.
Though all the musical bits are brilliant on their own, in some places they hinder the natural flow of the story. To find the right balance in this genre is rather hard but movies like ‘La La Land’(2016) did it more efficiently. The story is told in a light hearted way, so we never get into the obsessive dark territories like in ‘Whiplash’ (2014) or ‘Black Swan’ (2010). Still the depiction of the never ending struggles of this artist could’ve been better. One movie that immediately comes to mind is ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ (2013). There we see a much more brutal and realistic take on the life of a musician who is fighting for his belief and passion. ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ is nearly 2 hours long and a few unnecessary scenes affect the effective length.
‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ is Miranda’s love letter to Broadway musicals. Andrew Garfield delivers his best performance till date and his honest portrayal alone makes it a movie to remember. With award season coming up, ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ can clinch a few important nominations and win the hearts of many.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.