Tick, Tick BOOM review – an emotional delight for all musical fans

Posted on 20 January 2022
By Emma Carter
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Tick, Tick… BOOM is a biopic about Jonathan Larson, which immediately pulls you into his world and captures the trials and tribulations of his musical theatre dreams.

Andrew Garfield plays the composer with great charisma and emotion, which places the audience firmly in the gritty world of 90’s New York City.

Tick, Tick… BOOM was a one off show produced by Larson, who is best known for Broadway sensation Rent.

With his 30th Birthday quickly approaching, he prepares his first major musical project Superbia, a dystopian futuristic musical, misunderstood by most audiences at the time.

The film which is now on Netflix, has been adapted from the one-off performance by screenwriter Steven Levenson, to bring us an in-depth version of Larson’s struggles.

Larson experiences a distressing case of writer’s block while trying to complete the final song of Superbia, due to commitment issues with his girlfriend Susan, played by Alexandra Shipp.

As well as his career failures, he also must contend with his friends suffering from the HIV epidemic.

During that era, when little was known on how to live with the virus, several of Larson’s loved ones tragically passed away, all in their 20’s.

The ever-impending stress of Larson’s quarter-life crisis, is demonstrated by the motif of a ticking clock sound frequently repeated.

It adds the feeling of a ticking time bomb, hence the name of the film Tick, Tick… BOOM. What makes this all the more unfortunate is his sudden death at the tender age of 35.

Larson died on the opening night of his now world-famous musical Rent, which went on to be shown for twelve years on Broadway.

Garfield perfectly emulates the mannerisms of Larson. At the end of the film we see old footage of the playwright performing the song 30/90, which attests to Garfield’s talent.

He holds the same charisma and visibly intense dedication. The similarities also extent to fabulous use of costume and set deigns, which are virtually identical to the original performance.

During the two year prep period for the film, he took piano and singing lessons.

Director Lin-Manuel Miranda known for many other musical films such as Hamilton and In The Heights, had previously played Larson in a theatrical rendition of the story and worked closely with Garfield to perfect Larson’s representation.

The soundtrack is quickly becoming famous in its own right. Song 30/90 and Boho days are two of the fan favourites.

The songs themselves are everything from uplifting, comedic and emotional. The songs are well placed within the storyline adding to the atmosphere and emotion of events.

The film ends without a monumental happy ending but leaves the viewer sharing the hope of Larson that his big break is on the horizon.

Despite the journey of chaos and intensity the film takes you through, you are left with a sense of peace. It would have been wrong to deceive the audience into believing everything worked out for Johnathan Larson, even though it almost did.

Purple Revolver rating 5/5 – a big emotional payoff for all musical fans