Garfield gives show-stopping performance in ‘Tick, Tick,… Boom’

On Nov. 19, the movie “Tick, Tick,… Boom!” debuted on Netflix. It was the directorial debut of Lin Manuel Miranda, creator and star of “Hamilton”, and stars Andrew Garfield.

The film is an autobiographical musical that follows playwright Jonathan Larson, the creator of musical sensation “Rent”, days before his 30th birthday. Taking place in the early 1990s, “Tick, Tick,… Boom!” captures life in New York City during the AIDS epidemic.

Garfield is in the main role, giving a memorable performance as Larson. Although I’m not a struggling playwright living in New York City, with Garfield’s emotional display, I was able to relate to much of his character. From powerful vocal performances to the slightest of Larson’s fidgets, Garfield takes over the film through his reatibility.

In his debut as a director, Miranda did a sensational job behind the camera. His unique Broadway background helped adapt the musical from the rather simple Off-Broadway show. In a brilliant pairing, Miranda and Garfield are able to squeeze the maximum amount of emotion out of each scene. As a fan of the original show I can attest that Miranda’s ingenuity as a creator really saved this film from falling flat.

Although the ideas of loss, multiculturalism and class division Larson expressed in his work are timeless, the same cannot be said for his music. Much of the film’s musical catalog feels stuck in the late 80s. Even though it was ahead of its time, his musical style would hurt the pacing of the film. This is not reflective of every song, as the songs “30/90, ” “Come to Your Senses” and “Louder Than Words” show off his musical genius. 

Pacing is an issue that most musical adaptations struggle with and “Tick, Tick,… Boom!” is no different. Towards the end of the movie, it felt as if the story had to stop so a character could sing. This is different from the music coming naturally with the story, as it does for most of the film. 

With it’s cathartic ending “Tick, Tick,… Boom!” can create a lasting impact with it’s viewer. Garfield’s performance alone makes the movie worth watching and the music and story helps make the film a welcome addition to Larson’s legacy.