When two iconic musical theatre legends get entwined in the same film, there’s no question that it’s worth the watch. “Tick, Tick… Boom!” Netflix’s newest musical film, follows the true story of a young theatre composer who is having a crisis as he is on the verge of turning 30 and questioning his career path. Andrew Garfield plays the young composer, Jonathan Larson, known for writing the wonderful and successful musical “Rent,” and Garfield is directed in this film by Lin-Manuel Miranda, known for his forever famous musical, “Hamilton.” Again, a film based around a theatre icon that is directed by another theatre icon — what more could one ask for?
While this movie is many things, it’s definitely not an orthodox. I mean, it’s a musical based on a musical about writing a musical. It’s a little confusing to say the least. The film starts with Larson on stage for his musical “Tick, Tick … Boom!” in 1992. The film then goes back in time to a few years prior when it was the week following up to his 30th birthday and also flashes back to an important workshop for the musical he worked on called “Superbia.” The film goes back and forth showing Larson performing his stand up for the musical to showing an almost 30-year-old Larson struggling with his very erratic life. What shadows the majority of the musical and Larson’s monologues is an unceasing ticking noise that Larson hears in his head, which isa reminder to him that his time is running out to become a successful composer.
Larson’s obsession with “becoming something” before he turns 30 is all too real. This internal struggle might initially make viewers frustrated. It is a little exhausting to see Larson beat himself up constantly over not being a successful composer by 30, when in reality, there is no expiration date for achieving success. However, the more Larson is shown struggling with this battle, the easier it is to see oneself in Larson’s shoes. This whole concept of hearing a clock’s ticking in one’s head as everyone around seems to be doing things that are more successful, well, it becomes natural to feel like time is running out.
What makes this film not just a good one, but a great one, is the incandescent performance by Garfield. Every scene in this film is about both struggle and tenacity, and Garfield knows how to deliver those feelings in a raw and vulnerable performance. With all the attention toward Garfield usually centering around his performances in “The Social Network” and the “Spiderman” movies, it was quite surprising to see this talented actor also showcase his brilliant singing skills. It would also be remiss to not pay admiration to Robin de Jesús, who plays Michael (Larson’s best friend), and his amazing performance during the song “Real Life.” The entire film is about Larson struggling, but it’s during “Real Life,” as Jesús sings an emotional ballad, where there’s a shift for Larson and the audience sees him truly break.
However eccentric, this film is filled with such hope and true passion that any dreamer will see a little bit of themselves in Larson. From the oscar-worthy acting from Garfield to the catchy soundtrack that will have anyone singing along to the lyrics for weeks, it’s no wonder everyone keeps talking about this film. With this time of year being a difficult and tense period for many, watching and learning from a musical based around compassion and hope is the perfect reminder to keep an optimistic mindset for the new year.
“Tick, Tick Boom!” is available to stream on Netflix.
By Cyna Mirzai