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As someone who studied theatre in the mid-1990s, I couldn’t help but be aware of the work of Jonathan Larson. Specifically, his musical “Rent” would be come an important part of my (and everyone that I knew) collegiate experience. It was the first musical with which I ever genuinely identified, capturing my attention – and my heart – in a way that no such work ever had before. Or has since, as far as that goes.

I didn’t come to experience Larson’s previous work, the semi-autobiographical one-man (more or less) musical monologue “Tick, Tick … Boom!” until years later. I was older, though no wiser – closer to the age that Larson was when he creatively exploded – and engaged with it in a more “mature” way.

A film version of “Tick, Tick … Boom!” wouldn’t have made a lot of sense to me at that time. How would you even do it? How would that work? Particularly when you take into account the tragic and abrupt end to Larson’s life.

Happily, Lin-Manuel Miranda had some ideas.

Miranda makes his feature film directorial debut with this screen adaptation of “Tick, Tick … Boom!” Adapted by Steven Levenson, it is an adoring and energetic love letter from one theatremaker to another – there’s a clear and obvious reverence at work here – that goes a long way toward capturing the kinetic and sonic excellence of Larson’s work.

It’s also a sincere appreciation for the difficulties that can come from devotion to the act of creation. The single-mindedness required for genuine brilliance often causes ripple effects throughout the rest of the creator’s life, impacting all aspects of their world in what too frequently turns out to be a negative way. That dichotomy – the rush of creation versus the struggles of reality – is front and center here, presented romantically, yes, but also with a touch of melancholy.

Published in Movies

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