Friday 22 October 2021


Film review: Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen was a sensation when it opened on Broadway in 2016, winning six Tony Awards, including 'Best Musical', 'Best Score' (the cast recording also won a Grammy), and 'Best Leading Actor in a Musical' for its lead Ben Platt, making him the youngest solo winner for this award in Tony history. And Platt has now returned to the role he originated on stage for the film adaptation, which also stars Amy Adams and Julianne Moore. 

Evan Hansen is a senior in high school suffering from severe anxiety, which is amplified by the overwhelming presence of social media. But then something happens to a classmate, Connor, and through a series of events out of his control, suddenly Evan becomes a part of something. He feels less anxious and less alone. However, his new life is based on a lie, one which quickly spirals out of control... 

I'm a huge musical theatre geek. However, I much prefer live performances and often feel that film adaptations fall flat. They don't have the same impact as being in the same space as the cast giving it all on stage. The music and choreography is often overproduced; special effects and big numbers detracting from the story and intimate performance of a stage show. 

Dear Evan Hansen is rare exception. Despite some unnecessary changes to the soundtrack (a few of the original songs pivotal to the story didn't make the cut, yet two new songs were created for the film), it has almost the same magic as the stage show.

This is largely due to the fact that Ben Platt is back for the screen version, transforming once again into the anxiety-riddled teen. Originating the role off and on Broadway means that he knows Evan like no-one else. There is such a depth to the emotional scenes – of which there are many. It's truly astonishing to watch. Evan's anxiety was palpable throughout and I sobbed through most of the film because of his incredible performance.  

But this is not a one-man show (although Platt really is the stand-out). The entire cast clicks together so well, bringing some really hard-hitting but beautiful moments to the screen. Particularly Amy Adams and Julianne Moore, who play the mothers of Connor and Evan, and Nik Dodani as Evan's 'family' friend, Jared, who adds some much-needed banter and joy into an otherwise very heavy story. 

And let's not forget the creative team. The book by Steven Levenson is so beautiful, real, and heartbreaking. And the music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman) sparks with magic. I've not been able to stop listening to the soundtrack since watching the film, particularly heart-breaking opening Waving Through a Window, the playful Sincerely Me, and the devastatingly beautiful You Will Be Found. 

Dear Evan Hansen tells such an important story of loneliness, belonging, and the pressures of social media for those growing up amongst it. Everyone need to see this film and hear its message. 

Dear Evan Hansen is out in cinemas across the U.K. today, 22 October.

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