Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Written by Steven Levenson
Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, Vanessa Hudgens, Joshua Henry, Jonathan Marc Sherman, MJ Rodriguez, Ben Levi Ross, Judith Light, Bradley Whitford, Richard Kind.
True life story of Jonathan Larson (Garfield), who in 1990 – is days away from turning 30 – and showcasing for possible Broadway investors, a play he has been working on for eight years. He is struggling with writers block to add a final song, as well as relationship issues with his close friend Michael (de Jesus) and girlfriend Susan (Shipp).
Miranda, who is known for his brilliant ear for music, makes his directorial debut here, and he does an amazing job. Not being musically minded myself, I never grew tired of the very frequent music numbers, as well as utilizing cast who have either a music, or musical theatre background such as Shipp, de Jesus and Hudgens. The standout is the non musical background Garfield, who learned how to sing just for this movie. He was truly deserving of his Oscar nomination for this role
While the primary story line is that of Jonathan struggling with writers block, trying to put a song into his play Superbia, as directed by essentially his boss, but also his idol the legendary Stephen Sondheim (Whitford), and the struggles with the relationships with his friends as he pushes them away due to his obsession. The secondary, and quite important storyline is the HIV storyline.
As this was set in 1990, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is quite prominent, as many of Larson’s close friends were gay. The play he would go onto write following the failure of Superbia, would be Rent, one of the most successful Broadway shows. Sadly the real Larson passed away of an aortic dissection the day before it began its Off Broadway start.
Incredibly moving, and with brilliant performances all round, especially from Garfield and de Jesus. If you do not like musicals, then this is not for you.