Dear Evan Hansen – TIFF 21 Review

Dear Evan Hansen – TIFF 21 Review
Dear Evan Hansen Poster

Evan Hansen, a high schooler with social anxiety, unintentionally gets caught up in a lie after the family of a classmate who committed suicide mistakes one of Hansen’s letters for their son’s suicide note.

Since late 2016, audiences have indulged in and mostly fell in love with stage musical Dear Evan Hansen. Now if you know absolutely nothing about the show, which the movie is 95% replicating, then let me tell you the titular character is incredibly flawed. However, there is something about the character, despite his very questionable choices, can resonate with audiences. There is no denying that the music is incredible and catchy, and the new song or two are a welcomed delight, I would be remised if I did not mention that a few songs were removed, and they may have been crowd favourites.

The story of Dear Evan Hansen focuses on, Evan Hansen portrayed by original Broadway cast member Ben Platt, is about the anxiety ridden teenager whose just trying to get through each day but struggling as the days go on. His therapist recommends he writes a letter to himself, entitled Dear Evan Hansen and he writes one in the school library one day, talking about Zoe Murphy portrayed by Kaitlyn Dever and other feelings and emotions, however Connor Murphy, played by Colton Ryan,the resident outcast gets his hands on the letter to Evan and is found on his person after his suicide. Connor’s parents draw some conclusions and instead of coming forward with the truth, Evan decides to create a web of lies about a non-existent friendship with Connor that leads to a revolution of speaking about mental health and an unworthy relationship with the people closest to Connor.

What truly works with the film adaptation that was the biggest concern for me is now effortlessly the songs translate to screen. In the Broadway show the numbers are usually isolated as everyone else is silhouetted and imagining the songs performed throughout a film adaptation seemed to be rather difficult, however the way Stephen Chbosky managed to maneuver the musical numbers effortlessly and making it seem natural as he starts singing at a dinner table, or singing through hallways in high school, nothing feels out of place or out of sync.

Moreover, the chemistry that is shared between the entire cast is natural as the three leads are all friends off screen, Colton was the understudy for Ben in the Broadway run, as Kaitlyn is best friends with Ben’s best friend, so their friendship has become something truly special as well. Amy Adams and Julianne Moore also both excel in their motherly roles, both wanting what is best for their own children while trying to process grief.

Dear Evan Hansen is problematic if you can’t accept that the protagonist is flawed, the music is brilliant, and the casts performances are truly outstanding. While the characters may be flawed and make you feel uncomfortable, the aftermath of what comes from the actions of Evan is what matters and brings more light to the ever-growing epidemic of mental health crisis.



My earliest movie memory, outside of my home theatre in my basement, was going to the local Video 99 and wanting to rent ET only to be told by the shop owner it was playing down the street in theatres. My love for cinema has been alive for as long as I can honestly remember. I would frequent the cinema minutes down from my house daily. It was a second home. Movies are an escape from the everyday world, a window into the soul, a distant friend. If I’m not watching a movie, I’m probably watching a tv show, if I’m doing neither I’m asleep.

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