‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’ brings awareness to the stress of the arts industry

If you know me at all, I am not a musicals type of gal. I know very little about what goes on in the musical theater world and it takes quite a bit to get me into watching a whole musical. By quite a bit — I mean like Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, I love me some ‘Greatest Showman’. 

But this last weekend I was scrolling across Netflix and the movie ‘Tick, Tick… Boom’ caught my eye. It’s a film based on the autobiographical musical by playwright Jonathan Larson. It follows Larson (played by Andrew Garfield) and his life leading up to producing his first musicals such as Rent. 

The movie highlights the struggle of working in the arts and how it is a different and challenging field to have to work in. It seems to be a constant battle of following passion and heart, while getting little in return sometimes. 

Garfield shows this very well with his character in the film. He has to quit his job at the time to be able to devote the majority of his time to working on his musical, then later as it goes on we see him have to give more and more time away from the people in his life and his girlfriend. 

He begins to struggle with his bills, his relationships in life and his mental health. Writing for the production becomes time-consuming and takes over every area in his life, and he takes it all on without seeking or asking for help. 

Larson’s turning point in the film — to basically take a chill pill — is when his childhood best friend Micheal (played by Robin de Jesús) tells him that he has tested positive for HIV and has been trying to tell Larson for a while, but since he was so wrapped up in working on his production he wasn’t listening. 

This forces Larson to take a step back and take a breath and try to work on other things in his life, as well as finish the play. 

I did enjoy the film, though I initially clicked on it for Andrew Garfield and the description talking about the character struggling with Marfan’s Syndrome. The film barely seemed to mention that and it basically only came up at the end when it talked about how Larson had died from a heart aneurysm at 35 years old. 

I was hoping for a little more awareness regarding that topic, but I ended up appreciating how that was not the main focus of the film and think that it was really well done and captivating. I never felt lost or bored watching it and it really pulled on my heartstrings. I would recommend it to anyone interested in musicals.