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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Musical Drama At Its Best
by Betty Jo Tucker

As an avid Ben Platt fan, I was afraid to watch Dear Evan Hansen.. Although Platt won a Tony for his performance in this award-winning Broadway musical drama, I thought he might be too old to portray a teenager. Boy, was I wrong! From the first minute we see him on screen to the very end of this unique film, Platt convinces us he is Evan Hansen, a high school senior suffering from a social anxiety disorder and whose therapist asks him to write positive messages to himself every day. .

Because of Platt’s splendid acting, we empathize with Evan no matter what mistakes he makes, even when he lies about his relationship with the ferocious Connor (Colton Ryan), a fellow student who commits suicide.

Unfortunately, Evan gets himself in trouble by pretending he was Connor’s  best friend. At first he gains sympathetic attention from Connor’s dysfunctional family as well as from most of the students at the high school he attends.       

A suicide by high school boy

centers this film with little joy.

Yet emotions jump off the screen.

Plus, Platt knows how to act and sing.

 

He grabs your heart with words and song.

   An Oscar® nod would not be wrong.

Compelling story told with care

and lonely feelings in the air.

 

Music wrote to express so much

  as actors add their magic touch.

“Dear Evan Hanson,” former play,

a timeless movie now to stay.   

Because this film is a musical drama, the characters sing a lot of the dialogue, almost like an operetta. That might be off-putting to some viewers. And there’s only one enthusiastic dance number. But the music and lyrics by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek are so beautiful, this works for me. I especially love “Waving Through a Window,” “If I Could Tell Her,” and “You Will Be Found.”

A strong supporting cast includes: Amy Adams as Connor’s grieving mother; Danny Pino as Connor’s baffled step dad; Julianne Moore as Evan’s single-parent mom; Kaitlyn Dyer as Connor’s sister who falls for Evan; Amanda Stenberg as an active student who organizes a memorial for Connor; and Nik Dodani as Evan’s “family friend” who helps him hide the truth.  

 Dear Evan Hansen pays needed attention to the mental health struggles of  teenagers in this crazy world of ours.. Directed carefully by Stephen Chbosky and adapted lovingly for the screen by Steven Levenson, this powerful musical drama goes at the top of my list of 2021 movies that matter.             

Loneliness is about the scariest thing out there. --- Josh Whedon

If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken. --- Selena Gomez

(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “PG-13” by MPAA. DVD available on December 7, 2021.)


                                                                                                                                                                               
 
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