January 28, 2020 | LIFE | By Alexandra Akinchina | Illustration by Sierra Romero
Tick, Tick…BOOM! marks the directorial debut of none other than acclaimed playwright and songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda, best known for his shows, “Hamilton” and “In the Heights,” demonstrates his talent and artistic vision as a director in the film based on the autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson.
The film follows Jonathan Larson, known for his revolutionary musical “Rent,” as he struggles with art and relationships. The motion picture opens with Larson, played by Andrew Garfield, singing about how he is soon to turn 30 and feels that his time is running out. Throughout the film, a ticking clock can be heard. It reminds the audience that time is precious and that we, as well as Jonathan, have a limited amount of it on this earth.
As Larson struggles to write the final song for his musical “Superbia,” which he spent his 20s writing, he neglects his other relationships. His friend, Michael, has already moved on from pursuing an artistic career while Larson keeps chasing his dreams, supporting himself by working at the Moondance Diner.
Larson prioritizes his creative struggle over time in a conversation with his girlfriend, Susan, causing her to leave him. Still, he finds himself juggling his dreams with his other commitments.
After pain-staking work and pressure, “Superbia” finally gets its debut at the theatre workshop – a day that Larson has been waiting for.
When the musical doesn’t become the hit that Larson dreamed it would be, he is left devastated and on the brink of giving up his dreams of becoming a musical theatre writer. He struggles to reconcile with the fact that he spent so many years on a project that was not as successful as he thought it would be.
A now 30-year-old Larson decides to keep pursuing his dream and writes his next musical, “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” After that, he finishes “Rent,” a project for which he will come to be known.
However, Larson ends up passing away suddenly at just 35 years old, the night before the first preview of “Rent.” He never gets to see the success it gained. The sound of the ticking clock holds a lot of weight.
Larson believed in himself enough to keep going. His struggling artist story is a story that can be understood by many.
As a college student, there are many elements of this film that I found myself relating to, as I am sure many others will too.
For example, sometimes you have to prioritize your work and say “no” to other projects or friends. If you are pursuing a certain goal, there are many times when you have to make sacrifices to keep that dream alive. It all becomes a balancing act.
What drives many is the hope that our dream is worth something. That, perhaps, our work will make a difference in this world. I have heard stories of students wanting to write music, change the education system, or even climb to the tops of mountains. Whatever that dream is, Larson’s story is a reminder to never give up on dreams that, at times, seem almost impossible.
“Tick, Tick…BOOM!” is not just another story of failure but a story of hope. Although Larson never gets to see the success of “Rent,” his musicals impact so many artists and his songs change the landscape of musical theatre. His story and dream live on through so many people today.
The film is a reminder that your story – our story – can change and impact someone else’s. The clock keeps ticking. The time is now.
Lin-Manuel Miranda says it best: “[Larson’s] masterpiece is ahead of him and it’s hopeful because, maybe, so is yours.”
You can stream “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” now on Netflix.