Evie Totty: “It ruled.”
A film based on a monologue written by Rent's Jonathan Larson depicting his struggle with his purpose in life.
I've never seen Rent - I am not a huge fan of musicals - but I'd already known that he passed away before Rent premiered (turns out, it was the night before of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 35), so I already knew it would break my heart.
I was sobbing by the end. I absolutely loved it. The songs propelled the story instead of stopping it to sing them (which is why I don't particularly like musicals - therefore it seems I can like the ones that don't stop for the songs).
Garfield was amazing as Larson and I have the movie queued up to watch next.
I have a feeling I'll love that, too.
Scott Hardie: Yeah, Rent is a cultural blind spot for me too. I need to catch up. :-(
I'm glad that you liked this. It looks pretty good. I hope that Larson would have liked it. − December 22, 2021 more by Scott
Erik Bates: “It ruled.”
Amazing show, and a beautiful tribute to Jonathan Larson. RENT I'm familiar with, but Tick, Tick...BOOM I had never heard of prior to this. Tremendous music. It's a shame that we lost Larson so young. No telling what he could have done after RENT.
Samir Mehta: “It ruled.”
Wow. I was prepared to think of this as a minor work and dismiss it. Lin-Manuel Miranda directing but not really writing the music? Andrew Garfield in a musical? Instead, the movie hit me on nearly every level. A personally deeply affecting movie (I am constantly feeling the feelings that the movie's Larson feels, worried that I am living the life of his friend), one that subversively undermines the normal artistic heroic arc (he doesn't actually succeed in his endeavors), and one that has layers of depth beyond belief. Consider that the movie is in many ways a comment on LMM's career and also Sondheim's, standing between both. And then consider that the high-water mark ("Sundays") is levels deeper -
Sundays is a take on Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday" from "Sunday in the Park with George", my favorite musical ever and one of LMM's. Sunday in the Park with George is about the imagined life of Georges Seurat, painter of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Seurat, though famous for that beautiful and transcendent painting, died tragically at 31 of an inexplicable disease that has yet to be diagnosed. Though he painted his masterwork of "A Sunday Afternoon", Seurat did not enjoy the success or acclaim in life that he would have in death. Like many artists, we came to know his work only after he left.
In Sunday in the Park with George, Sondheim gives Seurat a second life that captivated the imagination of audiences, positioning his life as an intense artist struggling with being a man, a father, a human, along with that. It was a fictional take on Seurat, based on his life, that says much about Sonhdeim.
And then what is Tick, Tick, Boom? It is beautifully LMM's take on the same thing, except with Larson as the subject. Larson famously created the groundbreaking Rent and HE tragically died right before it premiered (in fact, before it previewed). Those who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s (or earlier) remember well how much Rent changed theater - regardless of how it aged, it was monumental. And Larson saw none of that impact. And the world audience mostly never got to know Larson, like it did not get to know Seurat in life. Yet, In Tick, Tick, Boom!, Lin Manuel gives Larson another life exactly as Sondheim gave it to Seurat. We see Larson's struggles with artistry - notably distinct from Seurat's - as one of choosing between struggle and failure versus compromise and financial stability. Where Seurat/Sondheim imagine the tradeoff as between that of security and family versus the inescapable desire for artistry, LMM/Larson see it as a choice between vocations (chosen by his advertising sell-out friend) or avocations. But, LMM isn't dishonest - he knows the truth - Larson does not get "Glory" - he dies before he gets it. He just has the truth of his work, the struggle.
It isn't a happy ending, it can't be. It's a movie, a work, about the struggle of being. About choosing the hard path because it's true.
And that leads us to "Sundays" -- in a fever dream of imagination, we have Larson in the side-hustle diner where he works just to get by imagining a life of art with imagine Broadway patrons out the wazoo interpreting the best song from Sunday in the Park with George ("Sunday") as an ode to the life he chose. LMM pays tribute to Larson paying tribute to Sondheim paying tribute to Seurat. On an ordinary Sunday.
(It cannot go without note that the doubling is endless here - Sondheim appears in the guise of Bradley Whitford, but also as himself in a voicemail. This movie is so meta, I like to believe Charlie Kaufman wrote it.)
Evie Totty: What a thought-provoking review. As I said - not a fan of musicals, so I don’t get your references, but I can hear the reverence.
Too bad Smith is a lock for the Oscar - I’d love to see Andrew win for this. − March 16, 2022 more by Evie
Scott Hardie: Damn, this sounds better and better. Definitely going to watch this now. Thanks for sharing all of this, Samir; it sounds wonderful. − March 17, 2022 more by Scott