November 8, 2021

SCREEN | Lin-Manuel Miranda Stages 'Tick, Tick… Boom!'

"I'm the future of musical theatre."
Andrew Garfield Lin-Manuel Miranda | Jonathan Larson's Tick, Tick… Boom! on Netflix
Imagine Entertainment
Successfully writing and composing an original Broadway musical seems very hard. Celebrated Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his directorial debut by adapting the semi-autobiographical Off-Broadway rock musical drama based on the short life of Rent playwright/songwriter Jonathan Larson. Tick, Tick… Boom! stars Andrew Garfield in a towering and very earnest performance as the joyous and talented but tortured soul of a '90s theatre kid pushing thirty on the verge of greatness.

Co-starring Alexandra Shipp and Robin de Jesús as Larson's dancer girlfriend Susan (Vanessa Hudgens plays the actor portraying a version of her in the musical within the musical) and best friend Michael, we follow the fictionalized version of the bohemian artist struggling to write and compose his first play then going on to create the one we're watching before his untimely passing set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis in New York City.

Adapted for the screen by Dear Evan Hansen playwright Steven Levenson, it's impressive how he and Miranda transplant the theatrical stage elements to make the film seem fully cinematic through expert blocking and editing. How Tick shows the artist's process feels truly thrilling and entertaining. Garfield's mimicry as Jon and his expression of artistic anxieties illuminate audiences on the path of creating something from scratch onto the stage.

It's fairly impressive how confidentially Miranda empathetically celebrates Larson's initial creation, originally performed as a three-person "rock monologue", but also making it his own while also showing a lot of love and reverence for Larson's body of work. He clearly knows how challenging it is to be an emerging artist trying to create something new and original within the Broadway machine. Tick, Tick… Boom! rapturously hits all the right notes as a messy but loving meta-musical tribute despite its knowingly self-indulgent material full of fun deep cuts for theatre fanatics.

Tick, Tick… Boom! screens at the VIFF Centre starting November 14th and will be available to stream on Netflix on November 19th.

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