Review: “Dear Evan Hansen”

Through the film adaptation of the Tony-Award winning broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” director Stephen Chbosky (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Wonder”) has once again developed a coming-of-age story with more than enough “cringe-worthy” scenes. 

Even with 30-year-old actors playing high-schoolers, the cast pulls off the awkward teen vibe. Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) embodies anxiety, and other characters like Alana Beck (Amandla Stenberg) represent the overachieving, go-getters.

The story starts with Evan writing a therapeutic letter to himself with the starting line, “Dear Evan Hansen.” As he writes, medication surrounding him and a broken arm also indicate personal issues. Evan jumps straight into song as he discusses feeling alone and unseen. No novice when it comes to singing, Platt’s falsetto proves his vocal range. His skills are not surprising, of course, as Platt originally played Evan in the original 2016 broadway musical.

Evan is stuck in his own head as his singing is depicted to only the audience, the other characters oblivious. His mother (Julianne Moore) tries to get his attention in the car, and the students in the hallway don’t give him a second thought, befitting Evan’s feelings of isolation. 

The movie explores mental illness carefully with the song “The Anonymous Ones.” Stenberg uses light vocals to convey tear-jerking lyrics with deep meaning behind them. She tells an important lesson of how there is no way to know what someone is going through behind closed doors.

For comic relief, Jared Kleinman (Nik Dodani) plays a “family friend” of Evan’s with a blunt and sarcastic personality. Jared serves as a stark contrast from Connor (Coltan Ryan), a student with a bad temper and irrational behaviors.

The plot truly begins with a complete misunderstanding between Evan and Connor’s family. After Connor takes his own life, his mother (Amy Adams) and stepfather (Danny Pino) misconstrue Evan as being Connor’s best friend. Failing to correct them, Evan comes up with an elaborate lie about all the memories he and Connor shared, continuing to give the parents the wrong idea. This deception even goes as far as the creation of “The Connor Project:” a fundraiser for student mental health awareness.

This movie revolves around forgiving not only others, but yourself as well. Understanding his situation is even more relevant with the growing use of social media, which heavily influences the perceptions that the characters have. Rumors are spread through Instagram which certainly does not help Evan with his crisis.

With all the plot buildup, much more is expected from the ending. The pacing feels abrupt as Evan vows to do better and grow as a person after mistakes that hurt others. The audience lacks closure, but after nearly two hours of siding with Evan, this ending makes him hard to forgive.

Kira Law

Sophomore Kira Law is the Beat Coordinator for BluePrints Magazine. She is interested in pursuing something in the STEM field like being a forensic scientist. Law plays for the Lady Jagssoftball team as well as in recreational leagues. This summer, she picked up skateboarding and has been practicing regularly. Her goals for journalism this year are to be more efficient and to write more diverse stories. Her favorite aspect of journalism is that she gets to work alongside upperclassmen and learn tips from them.