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Review: tick, tick… BOOM!

It’s been a huge year for musicals in 2021 and Netflix’s latest entry into the genre this year, is yet another standout. With everything from tick, tick… BOOM’s director Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights, there’s also been Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, Dear Evan Hansen, Respect, Vivo, The Sparks Brothes, Prime’s Cinderella to name just a few and to varying degrees of success. But with the year drawing to close and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story on the horizon just how does tick, tick… BOOM! stack up?

Jon (Academy Award nominee and Tony Award winner Andrew Garfield), a young theater composer who’s waiting tables at a New York City diner in 1990 while writing what he hopes will be the next great American musical. Days before he’s due to showcase his work in a make-or-break performance, Jon is feeling the pressure from everywhere: from his girlfriend Susan, who dreams of an artistic life beyond New York City; from his friend Michael, who has moved on from his dream to a life of financial security; amidst an artistic community being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. With the clock ticking, Jon is at a crossroads and faces the question everyone must reckon with: What are we meant to do with the time we have?

From the get go this is one of those musicals you are either going to love or hate. If you’re a fan of RENT, then from the outset you are going to love it for sure. The film is as wild as Jonathan Larson’s hair and has a soundtrack to match, but the real revelation here is Andrew Garfield in the title role as the challenged musical maestro. From the opening number (30/90) to the closing of the film (Louder Than Words) Garfield is nothing short of magnificent, exploding onto the screen like a man possessed, he will surprise many with his ability to only hold a tune, but to belt one out as well. Could a Oscar nod be forthcoming?

Backed up by an incredible cast including Alexandra Shipp, High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens and Joshua Henry who all vocally are on top form throughout. The duet between Hudgens and Shipp (Come To your Senses) is amazing and a real show stopper. In fact the entirety of tick tick BOOM! is a tour de force and one of the best musicals of 2021.

The film is intrinsically linked to RENT and from some of the hidden Easter Eggs placed there by Lin-Manuel Miranda for Rent fans to find to the music itself, oozes with Larsons opus. The RENT DNA is very heavy throughout from the various themes, the power being switched off, friends dying form the AIDS epidemic, to simply the characters and who they go onto to become in Larson’s RENT, tick, tick… BOOM! could be viewed as prequel to his masterwork and a tick, tick… BOOM! / RENT double feature will no doubts be filling the seats from the Prince Charles Cinema to your local independent cinema very soon, with sing-a-longs not too far behind.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, is cinematically Mr 2021 and with tick, tick… BOOM! This shows no signs of slowing down, everything he touches currently turns to gold. But it’s Andrew Garfield who deserves all the plaudits for bringing Jonathan Larson back to life for one final bow.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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