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Dear Evan Hansen: From Broadway to Film

This mage released by Universal Pictures shows Kaitlyn Dever, left, and Ben Platt in a scene from "Dear Evan Hansen." (Universal Pictures via AP)

Directed by Steven Chbosky

Written by Steven Levenson (screenplay by), Benj Pasek (based on the musical stage play with music and lyrics by), Justin Paul (based on the musical stage play with music and lyrics by)

Starring Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Amy Adams, and Julianne Moore

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ directed by Steven Chbosky, finally makes it to cinemas, based on the Tony and Grammy award winning Broadway show of the same name. The film tells the story of Evan Hansen, played by Ben Platt, a serious sufferer of depression and social anxiety, as he is caught up in a white lie that snowballs. Evans’s therapist tasks him with writing letters to himself to help him get through the day when one day, fellow student Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan) steals the letter. That night Connor commits suicide, with the ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ letter in his pocket. When found, this is mistaken for his suicide note and Evan is mistaken as Connors best friend. Battling anxiety, Evan can’t muster the words to deny their friendship which leads to Murphy’s family taking Evan under their wing, to try and get to know their son more through his ‘best friend’.

I went in completely blind on this one; I haven’t seen the musical and I have never listened to any of the music but as soon as the first song started playing, it sucked me in. The songs are well produced and catchy, and while I heard a handful of songs from the original musical were missing, I didn’t feel as though there was any absence.

The performances in the film are the highlight. While there was controversy over Ben Platt reprising his Tony award winning role, due to his age (I kind of get where people are coming from), you can tell that he owns that role. Platt brings a sweetness and a depth to Hansen, a flawed character that makes terrible decisions, that another actor could have potentially failed to do. Kaitlyn Dever plays Zoe Murphy, Connor’s grieving sister and Evans crush. Dever makes up half of the music duo ‘Beulahbelle’ but we have never seen her sing in this capacity. She nails every role she takes, so its no surprise that she holds her own opposite Platt. Both playing mothers, Amy Adams and Julianne Moore are brilliant as always, bringing an acting seniority to the film. It was no surprise to see Adams singing but when Moore performed an emotional solo, I was both shocked and impressed.

Overall, the film is used as a medium to convey the seriousness of mental illness today. I’m not completely convinced that it’s necessarily ‘appropriate’ for a 2021 climate, considering none of Evans decisions really have any repercussions, but it is an effective way of creating some kind of mental health awareness. The speech and solo that Evan performs later in the film, carries the bulk of the emotion and is sure to inspire chills and inspiration in viewers.

Dear Evan Hansen hits Australian cinemas December 9th.

emma-thay@hotmail.co.uk

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Written by Emma Thay

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