Before I watched the movie, I had little knowledge of the specifics of “Dear Evan Hansen.” I knew it was different from its original Broadway show. I knew the critics hated it. Even so, I refused to read any reviews before I could form my own opinion of it (which I most definitely did).
After watching it, I realized there were a few questionable moments. The main one was definitely the musical number involving Evan (played by Ben Platt), his family friend Jared (Nik Dodani), and the deceased Connor (Colton Ryan). The song was about how Jared and Evan were creating fake emails to make it look like Connor and Evan were friends before Connor took his own life.
Personally, I think it was done in a very tasteless way. This was the only number that had comedy mixed in, and it happened to be the only number involving Connor after he passed. I have never been a fan of shows and movies depicting characters after they passed away or took their own life (like “Thirteen Reasons Why” did throughout every season). Tone-wise, it was different from the rest of the songs, which focused more on the deeper message of how you’re never alone and that everyone means something to someone.
The ending of the movie also felt like something was missing. It would have felt more balanced if they devoted more time to the consequences to Evan’s actions. It felt sort of rushed, since there was so much buildup to the “what will happen” for the first half. While I’m glad they included Evan owning up to his actions, it felt like the audience only saw the consequences pertaining to Connor’s family. More time should have been used to show how his actions affected the rest of his peers, especially those that were truthful and vulnerable to him (like Alana).
But the movie still hits. It hit harder than I expected. On multiple occasions, I found myself fighting back tears. The emotion in all of the actor’s voices, especially Ben Platt’s, felt so raw and genuine. Anybody who has any direct or indirect experience with the subject of mental health and suicide will feel the harrowing impact of this film. Some critics believe the film emotionally manipulates you to feel pity for Evan Hansen. I believe the film makes you empathize with the gravity of crippling depression and anxiety for an adolescent.
Sure, the film is different from the musical. Sure, it cut a few musical numbers. And yes, Ben Platt does not look like a 17-year-old (considering he is almost 30). But when you cut down the surface-level critics and look at the director Stephen Chbosky’s intentions, you see more-so what is beneficial versus what is consequential.