by Fotini Maris–Asimakopoulos
Okay, well let’s start off with what exactly “Dear Evan Hansen” is and what it’s about.
So, “Dear Evan Hansen” is a musical … play? That got adapted into a novel. Then got adapted into a movie.
We follow Evan Hansen, a teen who has an anxiety disorder, through his senior year of high school, a lie, and self discovery. I guess that’s the best way I can describe it without giving away any spoilers. But will this review contain spoilers? Partially yes. That’s just a heads up.
“Dear Evan Hansen,” overall, is amazing. From the relatable characters to the accurate representation of mental illness to the tiny details.
When I sat down in the theater and waited for the movie to start, I thought it would be like the book and I was excited because I knew the music was going to be included in the movie as well. I haven’t seen it performed on stage.
To say that it wasn’t all that I was expecting is true. The way I imagined and pictured how the story went in my head was different from how it was portrayed on screen. Not only that, but I don’t think I was expecting Ben Platt, who played Evan Hansen in the Broadway version, to play him in the movie too.
I hadn’t seen the trailer for the movie. I don’t think he necessarily did a bad job but at times it felt a bit awkward.
During a short interview, Mia Dusenberry “Ben Platt isn’t young enough to play a teenager.” Dusenberry “felt nostalgic going to watch the movie” having listened to the soundtrack a lot in middle school.
” Ben Platt isn’t young enough to play a teenager.”-Mia Dusenberry, senior creative writer
When Colton Ryan, the actor, appeared on the screen, I was kinda confused on who he was supposed to be. It was the dark clothes and the fact that he was alone that I made the connection in my head that he was Connor Murphy. No hate towards the actor at all but, I just don’t think this is a role he played well or was meant to play.
Adding to Connor, I didn’t like how he was portrayed in the movie. I don’t know how Connor was made out to be on stage but as for the book wise, we got to see things from Connor’s point of view as well. Why he killed himself. In the book, Conner followed Evan around as a ghost.
Which leads me to talk about another thing. The song “Disappear” was removed from the movie. Now that song, in the beginning is Connor singing, asking for Evan to keep his family thinking of him and to not let him disappear.
And it leads me to wonder “why?”
We had deeper looks into different characters. Everyone had something going on. Alana, played by Amandla Steinberg, also had a mental illness. We even got a new song, which is amazing, “The anonymous ones” that gives us another deeper look into Alana’s character. We had perspective from each of the characters…all except Connor. I mean, yes, at the end we got a song made by Connor (which is another added song).
And yes, every character had their flaws and their mistakes but it seemed like in the end, they were forgiven. It just didn’t feel that way for Connor. It felt like they were making Connor out to be this bad guy, which his sister, Zoe Murphy feels most. Zoe even talks about how her and Connor rarely got along and always caused trouble. The only one that seemed to have a good opinion on who Connor was, is his mother and Evan. But, again, Evan lied. He never really knew who Connor was.
I do admit, at the end things tend to look up for Connor’s character in the sense that he was made out to seem like this bad guy but I guess I wished it was earlier. I wish they could’ve somehow incorporated the small and big details on Connor and at least included him more into the film. They added that Connor liked to make music earlier in the film which was stated by Connor’s mom, played by Amy Adams. I wish they included “Disappear” as well which again, would’ve given us a deeper look as to who Connor was.
The way that anxiety was portrayed throughout the story was amazing. It was the small things that Ben Platt did. From the hands shaking to the avoiding eye contact, the stuttering, paranoia/overthinking/planning, “um” and “uh” between almost every word, irritation, and to the way he walked down the hallway in the school with tense shoulders, eyes glancing either everywhere or keeping them to the ground and trying to make himself seem as small as possible.
And the small details of having blue and white objects and clothing throughout the film was a pretty cool thing to do. It went from Evans shirt to the flowers in the Murphy home to the lighting, to the Connor Project Flyer, etc.
I also thought it was clever how the story starts off kind of bright and then goes to dark and back to light. What I mean by this is that, before Evan tells the lie, the lighting and the music was very bright and upbeat. Once Evan tells the lie, the music and the lighting start to get slower and more dark (lighting wise).
And as Evan basically digs himself a deeper hole by adding more lies to the lie, the music reflects that. It reflects on Evans emotions and mental state. Once Evan owns up to what he did and tells the truth, the music and the lighting becomes calm and bright again. Because finally, Evan admitted everything. And not just what he did but how he’s been feeling and another truth regarding how he broke his arm.
I enjoyed seeing how parental pressure played a role. When Connor killed himself, his parents found the letter that Evan actually wrote for a therapy assignment and Connor had taken. His parents thought that Connor wrote it to Evan and when they came to the school to talk to Evan, Evan had tried to explain that it wasn’t Connor’s letter. But, the parents…more so mother, begged for something, anything about their dead son.
Grief is a weird thing to feel. Because it could tie ties with the feeling of not wanting to believe what truly happened or even the truth.
So Evan gave them something. A lie. Which leads to another and another and another. There is no excuse as to what Evan did. What he did was one of the worst things someone could do. He lied about being friends with someone who committed suicide and continue to lie until…well the truth came out. And the truth tends to always come out.
“Dear Evan Hansen” also shows how when parents aren’t playing a certain active role, how dependency and attachment issues come into play. For example, Evans’ mother plays the role of a parent but is always working and picking up shifts. Evans’ dad walked out on them when he was younger.
So, when Evan told the lie about being friends with Connor, the Murphy family practically took him in and started treating him how he wanted to be treated by his parents. He was getting what he was longing for because he never had that.
I especially loved the messages “Dear Evan Hansen” has for the viewers/readers/listeners through the lyrics of the songs.
And the best part, is when Evan knows what to write for the letter to himself, “Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be a good day and here’s why…because you’re you and that’s enough..”