Dear Evan Hansen


Dear Evan Hansen

Film adaptation of the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical about Evan Hansen, a high school senior with Social Anxiety disorder and his journey of self-discovery and acceptance following the suicide of a fellow classmate.

A weird, anxious, and depressed teenager gains notoriety after he's mistaken as the best friend of a classmate who commits suicide in . Evan Hansen () is a lonely teenager, whose mother Heidi () is never home due to work. Even is assigned by his psychiatrist to write letters to himself to express his feelings and his latest letter is intercepted by Connor Murphy (), who is angered by references to his sister Zoe (), a girl Evan has a secret crush on, with Connor believing that the letter is some sort of cruel joke by Evan. A few days later, Evan is approached by Connor's mother Cynthia () and stepfather Larry (), who tells him that Connor committed suicide and they found Evan's letter in his pocket. Believing Evan to be the best friend they never knew he had, Evan is asked to Connor's family to share stories of their friendship, while at the same time popular student Alana Beck () asks Evan's help to form a charity in Connor's memory.

Dear Evan Hansen is a film by director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) based on the Tony Award-winning 2015 musical by Steven Levenson, who also wrote the film's screenplay, with songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La LandThe Greatest Showman). Ben Platt reprises his role from the stage musical as the titular Evan Hansen, a teenager suffering from anxiety and depression, who has no friends other than “family friend” Jared (). Even gets caught in a lie when he pretends to be the best friend of the recently deceased Connor Murphy, especially after Evan's speech during a school memorial balloons into a full inspirational movement. However, when the blame for Connor's suicide is suddenly directed towards his family, Evan must make a decision about whether he should tell the truth.

Before I start getting critical about Dear Evan Hansen, as someone who suffers from anxiety himself, there is ultimately nothing wrong with the film's message of mental health awareness and suicide prevention, as best illustrated in the showstopping musical number “You Will Be Found.” However, apart from the obvious issues of trying to have a visually aged 27-year-old Ben Platt play a high school student1, I can't help but feel somewhat bothered by the self-centred motivations of Evan Hansen to exploit the suicide of someone he barely knew, so he can experience the family life he never knew or get to finally be with the girl he was pining for from the sidelines.

Despite being adapted from a Tony Award-winning musical with some admittedly well-done musical numbers, it must be acknowledged that Dear Evan Hansen is quite problematic with its depiction of people with anxiety and depression. As depicted in the film, Evan Hansen is a man so desperate for attention that he finds himself caught in a lie that he can't get out of. I'm probably even more bothered by the fact that Dear Evan Hansen doesn't really seem to have any real consequences for the titular character lying about being best friends with someone who committed suicide, with the story seemingly making everything better with a musical number.

Now, I will admit that I have not seen the original stage musical, however when it comes to the film adaptation, Dear Evan Hansen has its heart in the right place, but there are serious issues with the story that cannot be ignored.

Dear Evan Hansen opens on Friday, September 24, 2021

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Trailer for Dear Evan Hansen

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This post was proofread by Grammarly 
1. The producers of the films have acknowledged the issues with Ben Platt's aged appearance and will be releasing an alternate cut of the film with him digitally de-aged. The version I watched was the original.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.