tick, tick...BOOM!

tick, tick...BOOM! ★★★

AFI Fest 2021: Movie #1

A lively, emotional experience, even if I didn't feel most of the emotions it threw at me. This is very much a film for the Broadway crowd, both in terms of its subject and the countless references that flew over my head. A certain affection for Larson's work is helpful in connecting with this film, if not an outright necessity. More than just telling a story about him, tick, tick...BOOM! uses a distinct framing device in Larson's own play. What we're seeing is shown to us through his point of view, many key dramatic sequences being intercut with a recreation of his work. While never confusing, there is something about the presentation of the material that makes it feel somewhat haphazard and without a true arc. It was interesting to see how much of Larson's play came directly from his own life, but I will admit that the structure turned me off more than it pulled me in.

I wouldn't say this film is exclusively for Broadway fans, because I'm sure others will enjoy it without being one, but I do wonder if my other critiques stem from the same issue. There's a presentational quality to all of the performances, and while naturalism isn't inherently better, I just didn't click with tone of the piece. The intensity of the emotion, both in the joy and the anger on display, felt too inflated to be felt in a real, human way. There are softer moments, fortunately, and those were much more affective to me. The final act is where most of the noise falls away and we're finally left with something more grounded. Even when I wasn't wrapped up in the storytelling, I was still able to enjoy the music.

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