Todd Hill’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's been said that if you haven't experienced the rush of performance, that feeling that comes from being given the chance to express yourself on stage, then your appreciation for this film will be less than that of someone who's had that experience. In other words, you need to be a theater nerd. I think that's largely true, but not entirely.
I've had that experience, but didn't love this film. After watching "The Greatest Showman" (2017), another theater nerd flick, I wanted to commit arson. Conversely, I've no doubt this movie could speak to people who've never sung in public, for all sorts of reasons.
There's an often sickening sheen that coats most of the modern musical theater numbers we get today. Jonathan Larson, creator of "Rent," who is profiled here before that success, was able to rise above that from time to time, if not always. And the director here, that "Hamilton" guy, strives to avoid that trap as well by opening up the film quite a bit. Even so, its story about a young talent struggling to make it in NYC still feels overly familiar, and isn't that compelling.
Andrew Garfield, however, is fantastic. He appears in a lot of movies that feel like not the best choices, but his commitment to the roles he chooses is always way, way up there. He really brings it here, again, and I hope he gets an Oscar nomination for his efforts (I know he won't win).