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TICK, TICK...BOOM!

BRINGING JONATHAN LARSON’S BOHEMIA TO LIFE

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By Chris dos Santos
21st November 2021

For those unaware, Jonathan Larson was a composer and playwright who was notable for writing the rock musical 'Rent', which is a modern retelling of 'La bohème'. Tragically, Larson passed away the night before the show's Broadway premiere and never got to see what it became. But 'tick, tick...BOOM!' was before "five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes". Originally performed in 1990 as a one-man show by Larson, the show was revamped after his death to include more actors, which has now been adapted into a film.

Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield, 'The Eyes of Tammy Faye', 'Hacksaw Ridge') is a struggling artist and is about to turn 30 at the turn of the decade, 1990. He begins to wonder if the lack of success and struggle to pay rent is worth it. He sees his friend Michael (Robin de Jesús, 'The Boys in the Band') get sucked into an office job life, and while draining, the rewards of nice apartments and attention draw Larson in. At the same time, tension is rising between Jonathan and Susan (Alexandra Shipp, 'Love, Simon', 'X-Men: Dark Phoenix') as his passion to finish writing his show is taking away from their time together. He does finally get a big break with a workshop for his sci-fi musical, 'Superbia', getting the green-lit - but will it never get to the stage. Among all this, many of Larson's friends are battling the ongoing AIDS epidemic.

'TICK, TICK...BOOM!' TRAILER
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'tick, tick...BOOM!' is another win for musicals. Every number is handled with such care and love, it's a delight to watch. The cast is at the top of their game. Garfield is exceptional as Larson, completely transforming in the role. And he also kills it in the singing department; this man is just a true force.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, here with his directorial debut, proves yet again there's nothing he can't do (insert a joke about his singing here). Considering his limited background in film, he really understands the art form - and, most importantly, how to use musical numbers. I was impressed with how successfully he made the leap to film here, and proves yet again that musical movies can be beautiful.

The songs are fantastic here, from the opening number '30/90' to 'No More', 'Therapy', the heart of the film, 'Come to Your Senses' and 'Louder Than Words'. Every number is handled so well and really echoes the way 'In The Heights' took so much time and care with each number. The film isn't scared of its musical moments and really knows when to go over the top with set pieces or just offer a quiet performance, offering the perfect balance.

'tick, tick...BOOM!' is another win for musicals. Every number is handled with such care and love, it's a delight to watch. The cast is at the top of their game. Garfield is exceptional as Larson, completely transforming in the role. And he also kills it in the singing department; this man is just a true force.

You can also hear all the seeds of Larson's other show 'Rent' here, and I'm about to say something controversial yet brave - 'tick, tick...BOOM!' is not only better than 'Rent', but serves as his magnum opus. The AIDS crisis is also handled so much more reverently than 'Rent', and a lot of the problems found in 'Rent' are actually handled perfectly in 'tick, tick...BOOM!'

The struggling, misunderstood writer is a very tried trope, but the film really makes it work. The film deals with two parallel narratives: Larson telling his story in a theatre, and then seeing those events play out. None of it feels feel tired or boring. It's this perfect blend of 'Moulin Rouge!' meets 'Rocketman' meets, well, 'Rent'.

Musical theatre fans, I won't spoil, but we get a beautiful cameo-heavy number 'Sunday' with Broadway legends past and present. I cheered, I cried, I was unapologetically happy.

'tick, tick...BOOM!' is a roaring success. Everyone has brought their A++ game, and it marks another win for cinematic musicals. It's this beautiful celebration of theatre and the story and magic it holds, not only honouring Larson's legacy, but the stage as a whole. "This is the life bohemia!"

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 01h 55m
CAST: Andrew Garfield
Vanessa Hudgens
Robin De Jesús
Alexandra Shipp
Bradley Whitford
Joshua Henry
MJ Rodriguez
Judith Light
Black Thought
Jordan Fisher
DIRECTOR: Lin-Manuel Miranda
WRITER: Jonathan Larson
PRODUCERS: Brian Grazer
Ron Howard
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Julie Oh
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