• Gareth Crook

Tick, tick… BOOM! (2021) - 10/10

I go into every musical with a degree of trepidation. Even this, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut. He’s not the only musical theatre name being showcased here. For this is about Jonathan Larson, the young theatre composer… who of course I’ve never heard of. This is the point, regardless of him being responsible for a bonafide broadway hit, to elevate his name beyond the theatre world. He’s played by Andrew Garfield. Very well in fact. I’ve no clue what Larson was like really, but if he was half as engaging as Garfield is onscreen, he must have been quite a bloke. The whole cast are brilliant to be fair… and sound great too. It’s a musical after all, the songs are important and although I’m never going to play the soundtrack in the car, they work brilliantly in the film. Larson is in crisis. Approaching his 30th birthday, he fears he’s achieved nothing and is kicked into high gear to rectify this as fast as possible. This tells his story, mixing between a bewildering array of scenes to keep us on our toes. From stage performances to poky New York apartment parties, with great 90s music. It really injects a lot pace and makes this quite a rollercoaster. You never quite know where the next scene is going to lead to. The songs come thick and fast, but melt into the story perfectly. It feels a bit meta in places, but it’s telling a story… about his story so, fair enough. Larson is trying to get his musical ‘Superbia’ ready for a showcase that could really kick start things for him. It’s not quite ready though and the clock is ticking “tick tick”. Things are getting in the way, his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp) wanting to move out of the city, his friend Michael (Robin de Jesus) wanting him to move into a more commercial career, his friend Freddy (Ben Levi Ross) fighting AIDS. There’s a lot going on. Both to keep up with, but also enjoy. Hats off to Miranda. The music is Larson’s, but this is deftly directed with real style and class. Seriously, I’ve a natural aversion to musicals… but I love this! It’s full of humour, insight, empathy and tension, lots and lots of tension and come the “BOOM”… well it’s just beautiful, understated, delicate. I cried. There is a lot of sadness, but everything clicks. It’s emotional and joyous. It’s everything a musical can be when put to film and vice versa. Unbound and perfect. I’m gonna have to stop saying I don’t like musicals.

10/10