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Tick, Tick, BOOM! review: Lin-Manuel Miranda-Andrew Garfield's befitting tribute to Jonathan Larson should live on your mind 'rent' free

Breathtaking performances and incredible songs make Tick, Tick, BOOM! worth the wait and was a great watch.

Aishwarya Vasudevan
Nov 19, 2021
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With "Tick, Tick, BOOM!," Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his film directing debut, adapting Jonathan Larson's autobiographical musical. In 1990, Jon, a young theatre composer, waited tables at a New York City café while creating what he believed would be the next great American musical. Jon is under pressure from all sides: from his girlfriend Susan, who dreams of an artistic life outside of New York City; from his friend Michael, who has moved on from his goal to a life of financial comfort; and from an artistic community destroyed by the AIDS epidemic. With the clock ticking away, Jon finds himself at a fork in the road and must confront the dilemma that everyone must face: what are we supposed to accomplish with the time we have?


You must have read about Rent, the popular play that changed the face of Broadway in the US. Millions got to witness the beautiful play, except for the man who created it. Yes, Jonathon Larson, the playwright who inspired many, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, decided to make a film of his play tick, tick, BOOM! The actor-turned-filmmaker made a stupendous film, and it's not just an ode to the American theatre but also shows how he got inspired to create it.

First things first, Andrew Garfield! The actor delivers an impactful performance and steals every frame he is a part of. The actor leaves no stone unturned in getting into the skin of Larson, just as he must have done back in the 90s. Be it as a singer or as a dancer, the man could perform, and how! Garfield's introductory song is his performance of the iconic 30/90, which leaves you with major feels the moment it starts.

Since then, you know what you can expect from the film, and it's nothing short of a vision and beautiful storytelling.

The constant "tick... tick..." will leave you tense as and when it is heard on the screen. Because, you know, Larson is running out of time. The pressure of becoming something or achieving something before turning 30 is not new. He also experiences and lives with that pressure, which leaves him stressed now and then.

The film juggles the actual play of Tick, Tick... Boom! and how that came into inception. It shows from the beginning, Larson's dream of showing his talent to the world, which he knows deserves a chance.

But as said by William Shakespeare, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages." Larson also believes that his world is a stage and his story deserves to be heard, but with the beats of music.

Even his hero, Stephen Sondheim, who made his Broadway debut at 27, asks Larson to write a special song for his big debut, Superbia, which has never seen broad daylight.

The frustration and angst that Garfield shows in those sequences also give a glimpse into the early ageing he goes through due to it. The lines are visible on his face and the continuous frowned eyebrows show the stress he has been under since he decided on his career.

Another song that will stay in your mind is "Therapy," which is a breakup song. In the show, Larson and Karessa Johnson (Vanessa Hudgens) play Therapy, a song sung by Susan (Alexandra Shipp) and him in the show, which is interlaced with the scenario of Jonathan and Susan's break-up.

The sequence is heartbreaking to watch, but they have made it visually delightful with Garfield and Hudgens' duet. Another song is "Come To Your Senses", which stands out perfectly in the whole soundtrack. In the film, it's performed by Shipp and Hudgens, who burst the emotions not only while singing it but also while performing it.

Andrew and The Moondance Diner Ensemble also come together for Sunday, and oh, boy, what a sequence. Popular Broadway actors, namely André De Shields, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Chita Rivera, and Bernadette Peters, are part of the song. Not just them; Adam Pascal, Daphne Rubin Vega, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia, who were part of the original Rent, also mark their presence in Sunday's song.

These songs are just a drop in this beautiful ocean musical, which leaves an impressive mark by the time you watch the end credits.

Larson led a tough life that had fruitful results, but sadly, he didn't get to witness it. But the film doesn't choose that as a narrative, which is the right way to do it.

By sitting on the director's chair, Miranda pays a befitting tribute to Larson. It feels like the actor-filmmaker had the birthright to helm this anti-climactic story from Larson's semi-autobiography. We will go all tick-tick while watching the film so that it stops the time and does not show what could have been the tragic end of Larson's time.


It's a race against time to achieve success, but sometimes time is not good enough. Tick, Tick, BOOM! is that period during which you wait for it to boom, and the wait is long.

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