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Tick, Tick . . . Boom! Review | The Best Movie of the Year?

Has the mind behind Hamilton struck gold again?


“Are movies nowadays bad, or do I just not like movies anymore?”

This is a question I ask myself frequently. I go to the cinema regularly, 3-4 times a week sometimes. Often I walk out disappointed. The last time I left the cinema was the worst (see my review of Pablo Lorrain’s ‘Spencer’). I had no hope for movies anymore. I was done.

‘Tick, Tick . . . Boom!’, however, is the rare movie to make me think that I might, indeed, still like movies. It is genuinely the best movie of the year, and it isn’t even a close race. And, remarkably, this film was produced by Netflix, so you’ll all be able to watch it from this Friday, the 19th November.

Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick . . . Boom! (2021)

Based on Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical of the same name, the film follows a pre-‘Rent’ Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) in the week before his 30th birthday; attempting to put on the musical he’s been working on for eight years, “Superbia”, whilst also living the bohemian lifestyle amidst the HIV/AIDs crisis in New York in the early nineties.

Director Lin-Manuel Miranda has previously spoken about how ‘Tick, Tick . . . Boom’ was a passion project. Larson’s most famous musical, ‘Rent’, is famous for shaking up Broadway in the mid-nineties, in a similar way to how Miranda’s own ‘Hamilton’ reinvigorated the Broadway stage in the mid 2010’s. Sadly, Larson never got to see the impact ‘Rent’ had on an entire generation of theatregoers; he died the night before the show was due to open.

Andrew Garfield is sublime in this movie. He dominates every scene he is in. They should just hand him the Oscar now, because nobody else is going to even come close to how good he is in this movie. The supporting cast are also excellent, with both Alexandra Shipp and Vanessa Hudgens giving impactful but understated performances as Larson’s long-suffering girlfriend, Susan, and his leading lady in Superbia, Karessa, respectfully.

The musical numbers are also great – ‘Sunday’ especially, drawing theatre stars from both current, and past, Broadway productions. The film has high energy, matching that of its lead character, and the film never seems to drag.

All in all, I really enjoyed this film. Good performances and direction prop up what could have been, by all accounts, a disaster. I know this film won’t be for everyone. If you don’t like musicals, it’s not going to magically change your mind about them. But if you’re interested in the history of Broadway musicals, or even New York, you will be in for a treat.

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