Complete A-Z list

tick, tick...BOOM!


Stars: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, Joshua Henry, Tariq Trotter

Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda

A look, through his own music, at the struggles for success of famous Broadway composer Jonathan Larson. who sadly died a few days before his 36th birthday (we learn early) from an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm.

Played at first in happy-go-lucky style by Garfield (who also does his own singing), the character darkens, both with his agonised battle - that loses him his girlfriend (Shipp) - to complete (and even stage) his first big musical, Superbia, and with the descent of AIDs on New York's boho community - for this is January, 1990.

Although himself straight, many of Larson's friends are gay, including bestie and flatmate Mike (de Jesus), who has just given up acting to go into advertising.

The songs are largely of the howl-at-the-moon variety, although some are tuneful and some are swung along nicely with the help of director Miranda's jack-in-the box cameras. Vocals, too, are enthusiastically delivered, especially by Garfield, de Jesus (whose whole performance is as excellent as it's sympathetic), Henry and Hudgens.

But the film, though just under two hours, still feels a bit long at times, and gets a shade too preachy towards the end. For all its merits, its small release in the UK before moving quickly to smaller Netflix screens, is understandable, for the film is, like Jonathan's first musical, defiantly uncommercial.

The supporting cast is dominated in style by veteran actress Light, who, as Larson's agent, enjoys some cutting barbs. (Seeing your work performed) 'is a bit like having a colonoscopy in the middle of Times Square,' she says. 'The worst is that you can find you have cancer. With a musical you could be already dead.'

David Quinlan

USA 2021. UK Distributor: Netflix. Colour by Company 3.
119 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 11 Nov 2021