tick, tick … BOOM! is based on a musical play written by the late Jonathan Larson which he wrote before his big Broadway breakthrough hit musical RENT. Written like an autobiography, it is a fascinating intimate look into his life and struggles to get recognised in the industry. Larson tragically died on the opening day of RENT’s performance off Broadway at the age of merely 35.
The story is cleverly filmed interlaced between scenes of Jonathan Larson’s barebone stage performance of his musical tick, tick, BOOM!, and scenes of key moments in his life which contributed and supported the songs in his musical auto biography. Andrew Garfield has always been an artist who takes risks in his projects and trying out diverse roles. He once again demonstrates his immense talent in embodying the characters he play here, as the hugely talented Jonathan Larson. Here, Andrew Garfield not only gives us a Jonathan Larson that we can empathise with but also sings amazingly well! Through his performance we really get to appreciate the lyrics even better to his songs. Like much of the world, Jonathan Larson’s talents were hugely missed, and this movie helps to rectify that to some extent. His songs are easy listening, very Broadway style, and it is indeed a pity he died at such a young age. His story and music addresses social themes and the romantic struggles he was going through. Through catchy tunes and clever lyrics his songs not only entertains, but plays a role in the story telling. I can only imagine what wonderful musicals he would have further come up with had he not died at such a young age.
Director Lin-Manuel Miranda’s approach to tell the story through multiple timelines and intersplicing the stage musical with moments of Jonathan’s live, may be a bit confusing at the beginning, but once we get the idea it becomes clear sailing. The draw back here is that at the beginning, this format was not clear, and as a result of that, our attention was distracted from the main storyline. Nevertheless this is a commendable effort and overall, a great tribute to the artist that was Jonathan Larson. I have to admit that I have not seen his one and only coveted musical RENT, but after this, I shall make special effort to source this one out and watch it.