The Reel Review

B

Ben Platt reprises his Tony award-winning role in this musical about a depressed, anxiety-ridden teenage loner who is hailed as a hero after being mistakenly identified as the only friend of a schoolmate who kills himself. Evan Hansen’s decision to play along initially seems harmless, but eventually results in disaster.

Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen.

After racking up an impressive six Tony awards on Broadway. Dear Evan Hansen, the movie, does have a few problems – most notably, the jarring appearance of a much older looking, 27-year-old Platt again playing a teenager in his dad’s film. It initially distracts from the overlong, two hour and 15 minute runtime. The more stage-friendly story also frankly feels a bit ickier under the more scrutinizing glare of a movie.

Ben Platt and Kaitlyn Dever in Dear Evan Hansen.

Awkward appearance aside, Platt does pour his heart out and his impressive singing voice into a compelling performance, tackling such heady topics as teen suicide, loneliness and depression. Amy Adams is outstanding as the dead boy Connor’s mother, desperate to reconnect with the memory of the sweet young boy she once knew.

Other standouts – Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) as Connor’s confused and angry sister, Julianne Moore as Evan’s struggling single mom, and Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give, The Hunger Games) as the cheerleader leading efforts to honor Connor’s memory while hiding her own secret. Despite all of the sadness there is humor. Colton Ryan (Uncle Frank), the only other returning member from the Broadway show, sings a clever and oddly funny tune as Connor’s ghost.

Ben Platt and Julianne Moore in Dear Evan Hansen.

Director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) impressively stages the film’s songs for maximum emotional impact. And the film’s effort to redeem Evan Hansen’s image in the final act is a nice improvement from the otherwise superior Broadway play. Dear Evan Hansen, the film, isn’t perfect, but it still is a noble, heartfelt effort worth seeing.

REEL FACTS

Dear Evan Hansen is the second film of 2021 starring Julianne Moore and Amy Adams, after The Woman in the Window.

• The film’s US theatrical release date of September 24, 2021 is also Ben Platt’s 28th birthday.

Ben Platt in his 2016 Tony award-winning performance of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway.

• At the 71st Tony Awards, Dear Evan Hansen was nominated for nine awards, winning six, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Actor in a Musical for Ben Platt, and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Rachel Bay Jones.

 

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