Film Review – tick, tick…BOOM! (2021)

It’s been a busy few months for Andrew Garfield, the transatlantic superstar who may well be, once more, in the mix for awards season on multiple fronts this year. Earlier this year, he soared in Gia Coppola’s strange but enduring Mainstream before lighting up the screen alongside Jessica Chastain last month as infamous television evangelist Jim Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. And, of course, there’s the small matter of his potential return as Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home for which he has endured endless interview questions asking him about the fact. Bless him for playing along but to twist his own words, we think he is indeed the werewolf.

But despite the possibility of him putting on the red and blue spandex again, it’s his team up with Lin-Manuel Miranda that has many excited and finally Tick, Tick Boom is here and both gentlemen – and everyone around them – are a revelation in one of the most astounding, uplifting and ingenious films of the year. Along with In The Heights and Encanto – the new Disney due in a few weeks – prove that Miranda can do no wrong when it comes to music and joy. Oh, and he’s a pretty decent director, too.

Garfield plays Jonathan Larson, famed composer and playwright who sadly lost his life in 1996 aged just 35, and chronicles his initial attempts to break onto Broadway with early unproduced musical Superbia, on which he has worked on for eight years, consuming him so much that his relationships with this girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp) and his best friend Michael (Robin de Jesus) have begun to soar. His immeasurable talents are there for all to see but with great power comes great responsibility (see what we did there?) and despite his best efforts, it seems his life-long ambitions may be over before they have even begun. That is, until the ticks and booms…

From the first few energetic moments to its rapturous, spectacular finale Tick, Tick Boom is a musical that encompasses everything we love about the genre and stretches its very ideas and foundations to new, immeasurable heights the likes of which we have never seen before. Miranda’s flair for rhythm and marrying song, narrative and ambitious numbers reach their apex here with a beautiful, swirling, wondrous film that’s as dizzying as anything Larson created and pays him the most touching tribute you could ever have wished for.

Truly, some of the sequences produced here are reminiscent of when West Side Story, Grease or Singin’ In The Rain were first lauded for their ingenuity. It’s quite simply that amazing. Propelled by Steven Levenson’s boisterous screenplay that brings Larson’s themes of homophobia (the film is set in “real time” during the AIDS crisis), the thriving, bustling New York culture, mid-life crises and what it means to truly love all together effortlessly with his magnetic music and lyrics there isn’t a moment wasted. Impossible to resist and truly, utterly delightful throughout.

Garfield, for whom it’s become impossible to nail down a “career best” performance given his talent and success rate of extraordinary performances, is a revelation throughout and while we will bestow the aforementioned plaudits upon him, he goes even further here with a dynamic, bold and heartbreaking central turn that will have you glued to him, his mesmeric talents and oh-so-boingy curls that you want to run your hands through.

Supported by Shipp, de Jesús, Vanessa Hudgens and many more, it’s an extraordinary ensemble that continues to surprise and enthrall throughout and help bring this eclectic, sensational and truly spectacular story to life in ways none of us were expecting. We can’t wait to watch it all over again.

★★★★★


Drama, Musical | USA, 2021 | 12th November 2021 (cinemas), 19th November (Netflix) || Dir. Lin Manuel Miranda | Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, Vanessa Hudgens