2021 AFI Festival: tick, tick… Boom! Review

Director by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Written by Steven Levenson (based on a musical by Jonathan Larson)
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Robin de Jesus, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Joshua Henry
Plot: On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City.

Before watching tick, tick…Boom!, I did not know who Jonathan Larson was, what he did, or what kind of impact he had on people. So initially, I feared that this film was made for a specific group of people who knew of him, which can cause a disconnect to people like me.

Steven Levenson rid me of those fears when we are introduced to Jon (Andrew Garfield), a relatable, persistent, passionate lover of art that struggles to get things done. The spunk we see from Jon is something that reeled me in and I never wanted to get out of this man’s head. The story is relatable, the idea of creating art, being stuck while making it, having obstacles placed in front of us trying to accomplish them, we all have been here and we all know that pain.

The writing is magnificent, but my god, this movie does not work without Andrew Garfield, who gives one of the most vibrant, outlandish, daring performances of the year. Of course, you see great performances all the time, but sometimes you see ones that highlight the artist’s passion within the role that jumps off the screen. The role felt personal for Garfield, and he shows that sense of urgency that you know Larson felt throughout his life.

Garfield isn’t the only person who shows off the acting chops. Robin de Jesus as Michael has some very poignant scenes that should not be forgotten come time for the upcoming Supporting Actor conversations at the Oscars. He made the words coming out of his mouth feel personal and connected me to Michael.

A few of the issues I did have with the film was the music because, at times, it felt slightly overbearing, which might have been on purpose, but it took me out of it at times. The other issue I had was the direction felt a little messy at times, and again, it might have been on purpose, but I wasn’t fond of it.

As we conclude the film, you can’t help but enjoy the ride of emotions. I do think the movie had its issues, but they don’t ruin the experience one bit. You have a pair of fantastic performances, some beautiful songs that will be in my head for a long time and overall a message that can and will be relatable to many.

The Verdict: B+

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