This review may contain spoilers.
Netflix’s newest release ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ comes in the form of not just a drama, not just a biopic, but a musical all rolled into one. The film is based on the autobiographical musical (of the same name) by playwright Jonathan Larson and follows Andrew Garfield as the man himself, pre-Rent of course, struggling to make ends meet as a composer in New York City, in the build up to his 30th birthday, as well as long-anticipated workshop for newest musical – Superbia.
Speaking of Garfield, I’m of the firm belief that he is one of the truest, finest and most talented actors currently working – and this newest role only solidifies that. Every single moment that he is on screen, you can see just how much thought and effort has gone into this portrayal. His energy is emphatically infectious through-out, and you just can’t help but keep your eyes glued to him. Especially during the songs. Not only does he have a fantastic voice, but the emotion just pours from his voice, his expression and his mannerisms – you often feel the anguish that this character is going through through every aspect of this performance. I would personally say this is my favourite performance of Andrew Garfield to date, and I would be quite surprised if this doesn’t lead to a second Oscar nomination for him.
Another aspect of the film that really shines is the direction from Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film serves as his directorial debut for the silver screen, and proves that his leadership abilities as a creative steward transfer very successfully from stage to screen, as he delivers one of the best musicals in recent memory. Everything is on point, which lends to the inspiration that the film exudes. As an aspiring writer and director myself, the emotional struggles depicted throughout the film are all too relatable, in the best of ways, and I’m certain will lead to many aspiring creatives seeing themselves on screen and feeling that urge to make progress of their current project.
The music in the film is all written by Jonathan Larson, taken from the original stage musical and re-recorded for the film. I’m not all that familiar with Larson’s work prior to this film, however I am familiar with the music of director Lin-Manuel Miranda and I feel you can really see how Miranda has been inspired by the works of Larson. The tones and thematic approach to lyrics are somewhat similar, which really goes to show how Miranda was the perfect director for this gig. Each song is powerful, both in composition and performance, on top of being catchy as hell.
That’s not to say the film is without it’s flaws. I was aware that Larson sadly died before Rent’s first performance, and was eagerly anticipating to see how the film would tackle this. Instead, it’s just mentioned in passing at the end of the film, which almost lessened the impact and sincerity of the reality behind it. I can understand why they chose not to make it a focal point, as the film is more about the struggles and frenetic life of Larson pre-Rent, so to dramatise his death (which would require a time jump too) may have sent the wrong narrative messages to the audience of the film in it’s final moments.
In closing, ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ boasts very memorable performances, in terms of both acting and singing, a true highlight of Andrew Garfield’s career and a very sincere debut by Lin-Manuel Miranda. If you like musicals, or simply a good biopic with relatable drama – then I thoroughly recommend this film.
‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ is now streaming on Netflix.
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