Tick Tick Boom review: Andrew Garfield is captivating in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut | Films | Entertainment

The 1990 show Tick, Tick… Boom! was the semi-autobiographical musical scored, written, and performed by noted composer Jonathan Larson, long before he had written his seminal rock show Rent. The Netflix adaptation of Tick, Tick… Boom! attempts to re-stage the original one-man show about the playwright struggling to reach his theatre dreams and suffering through financial woes, while also weaving in Larson’s tragic real-life story in the process.  

Most of the time, director Miranda is successful in doing this. The Hamilton star effortlessly shutters attention around the ever-expanding and collapsing life of Larson throughout his formative years.

It is plain to see where Miranda’s theatre roots settle into the movie, as each musical rendition runs like a rock show.

Every beat, hit, and snare intercepts the scenery and framing, building up a crescendo of stunning shots before Larson’s timeless choruses come crashing down.

It is important to note that Larson’s music in Tick, Tick… Boom! is absolutely perfect. Not only does it still feel hugely relevant 30 years later, but it is also excellently composed and just so damn catchy. You won’t be able to leave your theatre without tapping your feet.

A lot of the time Miranda utilises this excellent musicality in his set-piece scenes. One in particular shows Andrew Garfield underwater composing a new song in what could be one of the film’s most beautiful and sublime moments in the feature. It’s utterly gorgeous. 

It’s not surprising Miranda has done so well with his debut movie – he has certainly been in the business long enough – but if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t.

The only cinematic hiccup in the journey of Larson’s life comes at its end, towards his untimely death.

Although Miranda was bound by the stage show’s narrative, the final 20 percent of Tick, Tick… Boom! feels extremely rushed. By the time the credits rolled I was left wanting – not for more film, but to know what actually happened to Larson when he died.

I definitely feel like viewers are going to come away feeling a little deflated by the almost abrupt ending. While it borders on biopic at the best of times, it never quite commits. I implore you to do some reading after the credits roll to bring yourself up to speed.

Any problems found within the core narrative of Tick, Tick… Boom! could certainly be overlooked by the captivating performance given by Garfield.

Make no mistake: this is Garfield at his best. Ever. Yes, better than Never Let Me Go, better than Hacksaw Ridge, better than Silence and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

He controls the screen every second he is on it, and not just in the tense, more emotional scenes. He also channels a true artist when he is behind the piano, singing and dancing to Larson’s show tunes.

The credits of the film suggested Garfield was actually playing the piano throughout, something I can believe absolutely. He gives his entire person to the role of Larson and does his memory justice. It’s a glorious thing to behold.

Of course, he bounces off of his co-stars (Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Vanessa Hudgens, etc) with ease, and sprawls himself over every piece of his set – but he is never overbearing.

Garfield’s real achievement is somehow not letting his character’s theatre-kid become annoying or repugnant in Tick, Tick… Boom!’s two-hour run time.

Well, on top of proving he has what it takes to head up any inevitable Rent remakes in the near future.

Tick, Tick… Boom! is in select cinemas now. It hits Netflix on Friday, November 19.

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