tick, tick… BOOM!
I watched this movie as soon as I could after it went live on Netflix. I was in a friend’s house waiting for them to wake up. I was in a terrible mood, extremely sad about a lot of things that had happened the night before, regarding to some of my latest romantic dramas. And so, the movie hits me. At the beginning of the third act, Andrew Garfield’s Jon looks to Robin de Jesús’ Michael and says the line that hit me the hardest: you tried to tell me.
There I was. Suffering from a strong case of bad friend who did not listened to what my friend tried to tell me days before. Not such poignant news as being HIV positive in the peak of the 90’s health crisis, but still. It resonates. The whole movie resonates with me in a very special way.
Jon, a late twenties musical author who knew he had little time. The pressure of the title’s ticks throughout the story as devoted to reach a climax as anyone would be, the ideas of being a creative that no one knows about, the struggles of trying to have your cake and eat it when you don’t even have all the ingredients to it.
As a musical, Tick Tick Boom works especially because it doesn’t feel like this world is populated by a bunch a people who just burst into song every five minutes. The movie and it’s main character are aware that they are telling a story, and in telling the story, are taking the liberty to make everyone sing. We’re not supposed to believe this is real life, but based upon real life. That makes it even more impressive when Robin de Jesús’ Michael cries and confirms the news to Andrew Garfield’s Jon, without saying a single word. He’s not the real Michael, and you know it. He is and has been, in this entire movie up until this point, the interpretation Jon sees of his childhood best friend. As much as everyone and everything else in the film is not real, but Jon’s interpretation of the reality.
That is why the story is so moving. Jon tells it from a place of love, excitement, devotion to these characters and world building, as he takes it as his creation, his second chance, his magnum opus, and there’s literally nothing you can do but enjoy and fall in love with the way he sees the whole thing. The way he sees his flaws, and embraces his freedom, and tells his own story. The way he tackles his loneliness and anxiety, and the way he understands how embraced he is, even if his whole work evoques loneliness to come forth.
The acting is great. Andrew Garfield really delivers and puts himself in Jon’s not-so-real life persona, but the musical-written one. And he does that with such a great understanding of the original material, and gives himself to this man he is portraying in such a clever and fun way. And even more, embarks in a lifetime achievement as he personifies this personality, and sings and moves (sometimes dance moves) as his own interpretation of the man. Jonathan Larson, as he is called sometimes throughout the movie, is as real as you are when you talk for two hours about yourself, your world, and the people in it. That’s the fact.
And even more wholesome, the technical work is outstanding as well. The photography is consistent, and the editing has its flaws as much as its gold. All in service of a script that adapts so well the original work. And, how to scape speaking about Lin Manuel Miranda in his debut feature length film, showing that he can be even better behind the camera than he is on stage. Of course, it’s impossible to imagine this story told as a non-musical biopic, due to the amazing work done by Larson himself, but, Miranda has the chance to shine bright when he is juggling music numbers from two or three different shots and whenever Garfield is carrying a lone scene, narrating his thoughts from the musical perspective.
It’s a very enjoyable experience actually, and I can’t wait to revisit.
tick, tick… BOOM!
Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Adapted Screenplay by Steven Levenson
Based upon the music writer by Jonathan Larson
Starring Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús and Vanessa Hudgens
Streaming on Netflix