As someone who just turned twenty, three weeks ago to be exact, and is feeling as lost as a child in a supermarket, this movie genuinely couldn’t have come at a better time. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut, ‘tick, tick… BOOM!‘ showcases the tragically short but magically inspiring life of Jonathan Larson. A man with the intense desire to leave this world a better place with his unrealized legacy. As his thirtieth birthday looms over him like a ticking time bomb, he starts to fear that he’s running out of time to achieve the goal he’s been working towards his entire life. Andrew Garfield stars as Larson in this deeply relatable, deeply tragic but ultimately inspiring journey.
Despite being ten years younger than Larson was in this movie, we are definitely in the same realm of circumstance. You don’t really think of where you want to be at a certain age, if you’re lucky enough you have a passion and make it your life-long purpose. However, if you’re someone like me who doesn’t have access to actual Broadway plays and lives in a much duller place than the inspired, you’re left yearning for something more. However, when you have a dead-end job that can barely pay off living necessities and you find yourself stuck in an inescapable cycle of disappointment, desperately using up that dimming optimism, you really do feel like you’re running out of time. Like Larson, there is that ticking time bomb in the back of my mind which to me represents the time I have left before I can turn my life around. How late is too late to start living the life of someone who has a legacy to share. My mind is constantly reminding me that I have so much to do and I don’t either have the time or means to do any of it. The entire sequence leading up to ‘Sunday‘ had me so overwhelmed I had to pause it. The constant nagging in your head, the outside world forcing you to come back to reality when you don’t even know what the next right thing to do is. It is an all too familiar feeling but I think that the reason this movie connected with me to such an intimate extent, is because it understands what it is to create, how much of a priority it takes in our lives. To continuously take from ourselves and put it into our work.
A crucial part of being a creator is denying that you are one. I’ve been doing that for the past four years because my writing doesn’t offer any financial benefit. Seeing struggles I’ve experienced as a writer made me feel validated. As corny and cheesy as it sounds, this is the movie that made me say that I am a writer. Being a writer or anything remotely creative doesn’t mean that you just love doing it. It means making it a priority, using it to cope, letting it ruin your sleep schedule and still somehow finding ways to be excited about it. In February 2022, I will have spent four years writing and the beauty of doing something for so long is seeing your progress. The way I approach a review, how I notice my signature style of writing. It really has become something valuable to me. Some of Larson’s struggles in this movie mirrored my struggles as a writer in painstaking accuracy. The scene where Larson is at his Macintosh rewriting “You’re” in different ways to get that spark going is something I’ve done countless times. Those nights where you stare at your laptop screen, scratching your head begging for an idea until it’s three in the morning and you’ve got to sleep because you have a ten-hour shift tomorrow. This movie understands that and it shows us why we keep up with this routine. It’s because we love doing it, it fulfils us and feeds that part of us that makes us who we are.
In reality, ‘tick, tick… BOOM!’ touches on so many things and has so much to say that this review doesn’t do it justice. I wouldn’t really even call this a review but in all honesty, I feel like this was the best way to portray how much I love this movie. Its impact on me is something I will hold on to for a long time. This is a movie that is going to inspire not solely because it is Jonathon Larson’s story and how he created the Broadway hit Rent, it’s inspiring because of his resilience. How it depicts an artist’s continuous drive to get past struggles and still keep creating. That’s why this movie is so inspiring because eventually, Larson does get his legacy, ‘tick, tick… BOOM!’ is a testament to that. It’s a message that feels oh so relevant in these modern times, the message to just keep going and invest in what you love.
Again, this review is all over the place and I barely scratched the surface on what makes this film so fantastic. Besides being well-written, ‘tick, tick… BOOM!’ also includes; an Oscar-worthy performance form Andrew Garfield who blew me away. The songs are stellar as expected, ’30/90′, ‘Therapy’ and ‘Sunday‘ being three standouts that I cannot get out of my head. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s direction shows true love and dedication towards the project, you can tell how much this means to him. The inclusion of the tragic HIV/Aids epidemic and how it affected the LGBTQIA+ community was discussed very effectively. It adds an entirely new element to the concept of not having enough time in a gut-wrenching way. Robin de Jesús delivers a truly fantastic supporting performance which I really do hope gets recognized. Other than that, the singing is great, the cast is incredible, the story is there but most importantly, it’s a movie that evokes inspiration which is ultimately what Larson wanted to do and I feel like that’s the best compliment I can give this movie.
‘tick, tick… BOOM!’ is now streaming on Netflix.