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Dear Evan Hansen
Universal // PG-13 // September 24, 2021
List Price: Unknown
Dear Evan Hansen is based on a Tony and Grammy Award-winning coming-of-age stage musical by the same name. This review reflects the perspective of someone who hasn't seen the original show, which allowed for a fresh viewing. Dear Evan Hansen is abysmal and out of touch. At a glance, Ben Platt's miscasting in the title role appears to be the film's issue. However, it proves to be the least of this movie's problems.
Dear Evan Hansen follows the title character as he begins his senior year of high school. Evan suffers from severe Social Anxiety disorder, which has led him to intense feelings of loneliness. His therapist tasks him with writing letters to himself as an exercise. When classmate Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan) takes one of his letters and soon after dies by suicide, Connor's parents (Amy Adams and Danny Pino) believe that the letter was their son's suicide note written for Evan.
Instead of simply admitting that he wrote the letter, Evan decides to lie and go along with the story. The lies begin to snowball as he finds that perpetuating this false story allows him to get closer to his crush, Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever), who also happens to be Connor's sister. The whole situation is flagrant. The experience is largely dependent on the audience's ability to sympathize with Evan. However, the character is absolutely despicable. His situation only continues to get more toxic. There's no redeeming this character.
As a musical, the songs don't hit quite as hard as they should. The lyrics occasionally supplement the movie's outdated understanding of its own themes. However, Platt gives a strong vocal performance throughout, which is likely the reason why they wanted him to return to the role. However, he doesn't adapt his performance to the medium. His portrayal feels stuck on Broadway and it doesn't translate well to the film format. His overacting in close-ups contributes to the film's inauthentic tone. The movie has an impressive supporting cast that includes Julianne Moore, Dever, Adams, and Amandla Stenberg. Dever is the real standout. She delivers a performance that rings true. If only she could be starring in a better musical.
Dear Evan Hansen is an absolute trainwreck. Platt is severely miscast as a high school senior, but the movie has much more dire problems. The basic premise is horrible, but it only gets more offensive as the story plays out. It's impossible to feel any sympathy for the lead character, making his journey of self-discovery incredibly difficult to get through. Dear Evan Hansen has an outdated perception of anxiety, depression, and suicide. It's shocking that this movie even got the green-light in this day and age. Dear Evan Hansen is manipulative, loathsome, and insulting.