Tick, tick … BOOM !, the review: all life is musical

Tick, Tick… Boom!: Andrew Garfield in una scena del film

The curtain opens; the lights go out; the mouth moves, while the gaze remains fixed on the viewer; and then here it is, imposing and masterful, the joke that echoes over time, bending the spatial and chronological boundaries: “The whole world is theater“. Unaware spectators of a show directed and written by sarcastic and unknown hands, the men and women who put their feet on this Earth, are interpreters of continuously happening performances. But if for Shakespeare our existence is nothing but a show theatrical, for Lin-Manuel Miranda is a musical. His characters dance. They face reality with the power of singing, entrusting each note with the emotional weight of a feeling stuck between the throat and lips. In a year in which the musical is raging, reduplicating on the screen the personal and universally shared attempt to let singing free us of anguish and disappointment, Miranda approaches a work that more than any other has united life with the show. Tick, tick … BOOM! more than just a simple one musical. It is a testamentary act of an unannounced premature death, but which silently slips between each act. Written, composed and initially performed by Jonathan Larson, author of that Rent that will revolutionize the concept of making musicals, Miranda’s directorial debut is presented as a sincere, dynamic and engaging tribute to the original work. Between dances, tears, hugs and smiles, the film is available on Netflix from November 19. Discover with us, with ours review by Tick, tick … BOOM!, because the musical by the Hamilton author is a caravan launched at full speed on which to travel without seat belts.


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Tick, Tick… Boom!: una scena del film

Having reached the age of thirty, life is scary. Blowing out thirty candles means dealing with a line of a total that marks the efforts made, as opposed to the (few or many) satisfactions taken away. For Jonathan Larson, reaching thirty means compromising with himself, with the author he would like to be and who is not yet. It is 1990, and in New York it is quite cold, while the Broadway theaters are so hot. And it is on that stage that Larson aspires with what he considers to be his masterpiece, a futurist musical comedy that he has been developing for eight years while serving at the tables of a diner. Time passes inexorably, while Jonathan feels left behind. His girlfriend would like to leave New York, his best friend has abandoned the idea of ​​being an actor to work in the field of advertising. But Jonathan is a prodigy waiting to be discovered and funded. Impossible to repress his gift, we must insist, we must continue to write, create, be inspired by something he knows. And so on the eve of his thirtieth birthday and against the backdrop of an AIDS epidemic, the music turns into a workshop first, into a theatrical show with an imperishable success then (Rent continues to be repeated today in theaters all over the world) . In between, an autobiographical work that now relives, echoes, resounds like the first time; a bomb that explodes, pouring out emotions, feelings, splinters and spurts of life: tick, tick … BOOM!

Lin-Manuel Miranda on In the Heights: “Musicals are like real life, but better”


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Tick, Tick… Boom!: Andrew Garfield in una scena del film

It was 2001 when David Auburn, author of Proof, translates and remodels Tick, Tick … BOOM! in a third-person confession, and this is how the work has been passed down for more than two decades. Then Miranda arrives and everything changes. Together with the screenwriter Steve Leverson, the creator of Hamilton (here our review) goes into the heart of the work, finds its roots, to bring it back to light in its original version. A structure so renewed and at the same time philologically cured, which unites life and curtain in a single embrace. Editing plays everything on this eternal union, especially for those who, like Larson, live on music and theater. The alternation of what was the first tick, tick … BOOM! On the stage, with the events that formed, built, generated him, he takes these two temporal spaces to unite them, letting them walk side by side and influencing each other. Life imitating art, while art reflects life, as shown by the amateur video footage that opens the work, reminding us not only of the (auto) biographical nature of the film, but also of the capacity of art (extended in all its forms) to talk about us, between inner ghosts and songs of feelings.

Andrew Garfield, portrait of the ex-Spider-Man with an angel face


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Tick, Tick… Boom!: Andrew Garfield in una scena del film

Ambition has the body of a city like New York. Yet in Larson’s world there is no room for skyscrapers, crowded shopping streets, squares like Times Square or gardens like those of Central Park. No recognizable element of the city that never sleeps, but glimpses of real-life environments, so unique and yet so similar to those of a thousand other cities, made of murals and crowded clubs on Sunday mornings. The environment captured by Miranda’s camera is an anonymous, ordinary world, as apparently anonymous and ordinary Larson seems. Closed in his bubble of ambitious creativity, the boy moves through the streets of the Big Apple ignored, misunderstood, unseen. A shadow that hides inside a light blocked in the bud, in constant power, ready to explode like a bomb, between constant ticks and inevitable implosions. And then it is precisely in that ordinariness that beauty, a crumb of talent and unusual wonder must be sought. Larson knows that the strength of a brilliant mind flows silently in him, the fire of art fueled by the spectacle of life. A fusion that Miranda’s own camera constantly reminds us, transforming every single moment of everyday life into a musical interlude. Yet the dynamism that burns and moves the sky and the other stars in Miranda’s universe is missing. What is missing is that beat of wings and heart beats that have dressed a theatrical show like Hamilton with the clothes of a film, where the scene changes, the choreographic ensembles live on a dynamism that recalls a cinematographic montage capable of taking the spectator by the hand and living one and a thousand lives, experiences, emotions, as many as they live and breathe on stage. Attentive to building the prestigious cinematic reflection of Larson’s work, Miranda focuses on technical perfection, forgetting the most important aspect of a film like Tick, tick … BOOM: the heart.

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Tick, Tick… Boom!: Andrew Garfield in una scena del film

The director takes the lead in directing with confidence and extreme professionalism, placing the characters in the center of the screen making them real and no longer the moving shadows of a past lent to art. An infusion of life accomplished without cabalistic or magical rites, but thanks to the dynamic force of a fluid camera and a harmonious editing rhythm that keeps pace with the camera, emphasizing and underlining the emotional and semantic significance of each single movement. Yet the general sense that transpires is that of a sterile style, especially when compared with that of the previous Hamilton; a style more suited to a concert film than to an immersive storytelling. Although stuck in the grips of a direction that would both mean and (s) move in a dynamism that is not completely saturated, the emotions still manage to shine through, thanks above all to the visual composition of an iridescent photograph that chromatically adapts to every mood experienced in the frame of every moment. It is a company of dancers ready to change clothes in the arrival of each act, the one curated by the operator Alice Brook. A gallery of paintings of different formats and aspect-ratios that are colored with shades and shades now light, warm, now cold and shady, responding to the call of emotions. This study turns each song into a sort of music video clip, a child born within the MTV generation and launched towards that audiovisual collage that tries to make Tick, tick … BOOM the most perfect transposition of the intentions of its original author and his worthy witness, Miranda.

Scenes from musicals: 30 unforgettable movies and moments – part 1


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Tick, Tick… Boom!: Andrew Garfield in una scena del film

The actors who appear on the screen in Tick, tick … BOOM! They don’t just play a part, they study, assimilate and make their own the existence of others before them. They borrow it with respect, giving it back with elegance, sympathy, and naturalness. Central pivot around which all the creative big bang of Miranda’s film bursts and is generated Andrew Garfield as Jonathan. The actor recalls all that collection of expressions that accompanied him in the creations of dozens of other characters, grimaces, smiles, parted lips and clenched fists of anger: every gesture and expressive mimicry bordering on the border of the speck, however, manages to circumvent the obstacle giving new life to a Larson hit by an emotional maelstrom that makes him real, tangible, but above all credible. Around him rises a corollary of characters who, like shadows, anticipate the community imagined for RENT. Bohemian, rappers, archetypal types of mankind, are a colorful and heterogeneous puzzle already collected first in Larson’s life, then in Tick, tick … BOOM! Both in its theatrical and cinematic version. Miranda calls to herself some human and real mirrors * of these presences that have allowed Larson to grow, mature, explode, without ever dying. Alexandra Shipp’s Susan is a beam of light that illuminates Jonathan’s life. The outstretched lips, in an eternal smile printed even in pain, gives a sense of calm, goodness, hope for an existence that walks in balance on the ravine of mediocrity. But it is Robin de Jesús as Michael (Jonathan’s best friend) who takes the scene, swallows it and makes it his own, summarizing in the space of a face the whole kaleidoscopic whirlwind of emotions that invest his character.

Caught in wide fields, which take and unite every single character, Miranda not only refers to the concept of theatrical representation, of existences caught at the same time in a single space, but also to the sense of friendship, of love, of that corollary of emotions that they creep into the deepest epidermal state, leaking out like a song against the background of a ticking bomb, while the hands flow, in the eternal expectation of a total explosion, that of applause roaring to the rhythm of “tick, tick … BOOM! “.


We conclude our review of Tick, tick … BOOM! underlining how Lin-Manuel Miranda’s film proves to be a wonderful compendium of art and life. Backed by an excellent Andrew Garfield, the musical lives up to its original show, turning every emotion into a song that sticks to the skin and never leaves.

Because we like it

  • The performances of the actors, including Garfield.
  • Iridescent photography.
  • A nostalgic flavor of MTV and the 90s.
  • And defend.

What’s wrong

  • Miranda’s sometimes sterile direction, all technique and little heart.

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