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‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ Effortlessly Captures the Need for Storytelling

key poster art for Netflix's tick tick boom! featuring andrew garfield on the cover
©Netflix
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Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and starring Andrew Garfield, tick, tick…BOOM! encapsulates so much it’s hard to pick an angle to deconstruct. Mashable’s Kristy Puchko says it best in her review, “tick, tick…BOOM! explodes with theater kid energy.” The film is exhilarating, it’s gut-wrenching, and it captures so much of what creativity leaves people blistered and bruised with—exhaustion, pain, sadness, and every bit of darkness before the rewarding breakthrough.

Based on the true story of composer and playwright Jonathan Larson, tick, tick…BOOM! is profoundly personal and harrowing while at the same time, it acts as a celebration of humanity. The concept of time is palpable throughout, and the film’s means of incorporating ticking sounds shot at my anxiety. What is time? What is a good production? And not to quote Hamiltonbut it’s nearly impossible not to—who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

So much of the heart that is captured in tick, tick…BOOM! is by virtue of the passion that storytellers possess—the utter need coupled with profound desires to write something, anything that will be important to someone.

tick, tick…BOOM! bares it all

TICK, TICK…BOOM!  (L-R) Andrew Garfield as Jonathan Larson, Alexandra Shipp as Susan in TICK, TICK…BOOM! Photo Credit: Macall Polay/
©Netflix
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tick, tick…BOOM! captures something that is deep within all of us, which words can only articulate bits and pieces of. Writers are often asked why they do it, and even now…why am I writing this review? What is the purpose of it? What am I trying to say? I can’t put it into words. I watched the film, I loved it, I resonated deeply within the heartwarming stories, and I have to write something—anything to process my feelings with the pangs of creativity, the essence of time humans will never understand, and all the reasons why so much of life seldom makes sense unless it’s channeled through creatively.

Some might say otherwise, but as a writer, this is it for me.

Art is subjective, and musical theater isn’t for everybody, but if it is for you—if you love it as much as I do and feel the emotions down to your bones every time, then tick, tick…BOOM! is a must-watch. The story behind it, the music, and the performances make for a truly breathtaking and indescribable form of art.

tick, tick…BOOM! is about the stories that demand to be told, the stories that highlight real, human experiences, the darkness and the heart, and everything else in between. Andrew Garfield brings the best of his abilities to this performance with the kind of emotional range that defines embodiment. Garfield becomes Larson so effortlessly it is utterly heartbreaking to watch him navigate through the good, bad, and ugly. It’s then painful to go from songs like “30/90” to “Why” and “Louder than Words.”

Andrew Garfield doesn’t miss a single beat and shines brilliantly with astounding chemistry with every single actor in the film. I wept like a baby during that final moment between Garfield’s Jon and Robin de Jesús’ Michael. And then I wept every time anyone else sang because the cast makes you feel everything so deeply, it’s impossible not to.

As the audience watches Jon struggle, a piece of us escapes into the shadows that engulf the world of storytelling, and we ache right alongside him. We feel frustrated right with him. We think of our own endeavors, or own lack of time, the ticks that fade and resurface because that’s what art is—it’s an endless cycle of trials and errors, yeses and nos.

tick, tick…BOOM! makes you feel everything, and it does so effortlessly. It forces you to explore so many facets of storytelling, and when you’re done, it leaves you in a broken daze as you question it all—the whys and the hows. The film explores exhaustion with such nuances it’s both depressing and captivating. The words alone are powerful, but it’s the performances that break ground and stun. 

There are so many words, and yet, not enough at the same time, but that’s creativity and storytelling—it’s indescribable sometimes.

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