Dear Evan Hansen movie poster

Dear Evan Hansen

In theaters September 24, 2021

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137 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , , , , , ,

Dear Evan Hansen (2021) is a musical, but don’t let that stop you from taking the whole family. It’s an important social message wrapped in high school insecurities and songs and in the day of social media false fronts, it should be seen.

It’s no secret that this is not the kind of movie I would see on purpose.

Evan Hanson (Ben Platt) is what we used to politely call “high strung”. He has anxiety issues he promises his mother he’s working on and he’s lonely. His social anxiety is crippling and his only friend, Nik (Jared Kleinman) even seems reluctant to be associated with him. After a school suicide and a misunderstanding, Evan becomes the conduit of grief, hope, and affirmations for the lonely, abandoned, and suicidal. Evan never quite manages to tell Connor’s parents (Amy Adams) and that the note they found on Connor was written by Evan himself, an exercise requested by his therapist to help boost his self-esteem. Evan is ready to come clean except Connor’s mother (Amy Adams) is desperate for any connection to her son. Evan invents an entire life with Connor with fictitious adventures and great times constantly building and embellishing because he literally can’t help himself.

It clashes with memories Connor’s sister has of actual events and over time even Evan must reconcile that his fantastical fiction with the reality of a sad teen who never fit in, lashed out when he was hurt, and ultimately took his own life because he saw no other option. Evan finds himself in the company of people just like him who are struggling, though perhaps not where everyone can see, like in over-achiever Alana – popular on the outside, Imposter Syndrome on the inside. As tributes and events spiral out of control Evan finds himself at a crossroads  – does he go back to being her best Evan Hansen he can be, or is this new life of everything he thinks hes’ ever wanted going to be enough?

Dear Evan Hansen is a musical journey through suburban angst, the pressure of simply existing, and wreckage of teen suicide in an atmosphere of polite avoidance. It’s navigating the mind field of grief, acceptance, depression, mental illness, and the social face everyone wears so no one knows the pain inside.  It’s skillfully done for a musical targeted at everyone, but especially those who don’t care for musicals but maybe don’t mind a little melody with their monologue. The songs also help with the forward momentum of Dear Evan Hansen, instead of filling space with a little music. More than a musical info dump, each song managed to flesh out the characters a little more in two-and-a-half minutes. It’s obvious why this was a smash Broadway hit.

It’s heartfelt without being corny which is an amazing balance, due primarily to the performance of Ben Platt as Evan Hansen. He brings a solid, quirky personality that is more than goofy antics and clumsy slapstick. Ben Plat originated the role of Evan Hansen in the musical and the strength of his voice alone is enough to carry the character. As Evan Hansen, he embodies the sad desperate side of being a teenager, the part adults dismiss as a phase, the part peers ignore because it’s difficult to talk about. Every character brings a depth of emotion and longing that only superficially seems dramatic until we realize we know these people and we are these people.  and it’s a little startling to see yourself exposed on screen. It feels very real and very genuine.

This isn’t a weepy movie, not for me anyway, but it is powerful. Smack dab in the middle of a pandemic, it might just be the movie you’ve been needing to see.

Dear Evan Hansen (2021) is Rated PG-13 for swears, multiple conversations about suicide, depression, and mental illness in a forward and frank way. Call this “musical therapy” you weren’t ready for but needed.

Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

Comments

  1. I was able to see it in preview – it was WONDERFUL ! I heartily recommend it for all ages – especially teens. It is heart-wrenching and uplifting – and definitely a multi-tissue experience. The whole cast is great – but Ben Platt is electrifying – and mesmerizing in his vocals. He will break your heart. A MUST-SEE ! I strongly recommend it !

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