Film adaptation of the Tony and Grammy award winning stage musical Dear Evan Hansen, which is about a high school senior who is struggling with social anxiety disorder and ends up in a very big lie after a fellow classmate commits suicide.
The success of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway was massive since it opened back in December 2016 after previews in July 2015. Which means the film adaptation is actually a rather quick process from a stage show, to screen. The show had critical acclaim and mainly due to Ben Platt’s leading performance, the lyrics in the songs and the book. It had very open dialogue around mental illness and youth suicide. While I had heard of the musical I didn’t really know all that much about it other than the suicide aspect. Therefore I went into the film blind in terms of my knowledge around it.
I thought the way that the story moved was at a good pace and it had the musical numbers spread out and effortlessly placed within it all. Using the songs to cover over when Evan Hansen was really struggling to speak and using song to get his point across. It is rather difficult at times given the nature of the story and the fact that Evan has many issues going on with his life, the social anxiety stopping him from having any real friends and being ultimately depressed. His mother Heidi doing her very best to provide support for her son but also having to work a lot.
The main points I took from the story was that you never actually know how much someone is actually suffering. That was indeed the case for Connor Murphy who had previous drug issues as well as not being able to control his anger. He wrote his name on Evan’s cast after he had broken his arm that summer and from that it all escalated that they were friends, when Connor had taken a self written letter that Evan had printed out which was an assignment from his therapist. It was very clear to see that the small lie he goes along with would get out of control and it really did, very quickly as well. It was obviously a massive shame that this situation actually gave Evan the chance to have people care about him, although we all knew it was never going to end well.
The lyrics in the songs and some of the dialogue reminding everyone that it’s ok to feel lonely and low, that everyone at some point will feel that way. You might never actually guess that though and that is put across by some of the other characters. This is highlighted with Alana Beck who everyone assumes is just perfect and has everything she could ever want.
Given that Ben Platt originated the role of Evan Hansen on stage that makes it clear why they wanted him to then have the film version as well, I had seen a lot of criticism surrounding his casting and surely we have seen a lot of much older actors attempt to play an 18 year old? Although the fact that he actually looked older than his actual age was a massive shame really. Growing his hair actually seemed to be a bad idea and doesn’t look anything like the character from the stage show. That being said though, the emotion he puts into the different scenes and singing really was impressive, he knows this character so much given the amount of times he performed the role on stage.
The rest of the cast I thought did well with their respective roles, Kaitlyn Dever continues to impress me and I certainly look forward to following more of her career. Julianne Moore and Amy Adams both adding struggling mother characters in the best possible way. Amandla Stenberg stole a few of the scenes in my opinion, I really enjoyed her performance.
As you are probably aware I really do adore and love musicals, this one was missing a few things to make it even better but it certainly does have some very important messages about mental health and supporting others, as well as raising the profile of teen suicide.