"Dear Evan Hansen, today's going to be an amazing day and here's why..."
Dear Evan Hansen is a film adaptation of the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical about Evan Hansen, a high school senior with a severe social anxiety disorder, whose letter to himself, one that was not meant to be seen by others, lands into the wrong hands of a fellow classmate who, as a result, commits suicide. This incident sends Evan on a journey of self-discovery and gives him the chance to finally be accepted by his peers and live the life he never dreamed he could have. Let's get the obvious out of the way. There's been some skepticism and hate surrounding the movie ever since the trailer dropped, mainly because Ben Platt (27) is playing a high school student. Is it distracting? Very. But once you get past it, he does give a good performance. Obviously, he knows this character well, much better than the movie knows itself. It's a shame because it doesn't match up well. From what I know, the story here is close to that of the stage performance. The only thing is there's a different understanding in direction. Stephen Chbosky has proven to be a good director in the past, especially with The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A task as big as this is hard not only because of the hype from the musical, but also because it's such a heavy subject to touch upon. This tries to be much more sympathetic with Evan, but as it goes along it's really hard to like him and some other characters. I wanted to feel bad for him because he's struggling, but choices made and the overall feel of the movie don't help with it.
The movie is a bit uneven. I liked it in pieces, but the flow can't get it right. Some scenes understand the right amount of emotion and tension. Those mainly came from Kaitlyn Dever, my favorite performance from the movie, and Amy Adams. They showcase the most amount of grief and anger that's understandable. Because most of the movie plays it too dramatic, it's nice to see a performance that can take away from that part. And the runtime may feel a little long, but once we get those scenes, it feels rewarding at the time. The amount of musical numbers isn't a whole lot and none are these big showy sequences with choreography, but I like that. I'm not sure if the stage performance is like that, but the lowkey nature of those numbers fits well. I wish I could say I liked Dear Evan Hansen more, but it falls short. It's one of those movies that I didn't mind but will soon forget. And maybe part of it had to do with the audience I watched it with, but I'll get into that in a second. Some people are going to connect with this and find it to be an emotional experience. And some are going to hate this because of the unlikable characters. This feels like an easy transfer to screen musical, but it's that easiness that made it weak.
Ok, so I got to see this early (last week) because I'm at an arts school. I know a few other schools had this opportunity as well. I was very disappointed with the crowd. A good majority we're already making fun of the movie before it started, and once it did it spread throughout the whole room. I understand that this movie is focusing on a tough subject and we all respond in different ways, but when someone is given the news that their son has died and then are grieving and going through a tough time, you should not be laughing hysterically. Sometimes it was hard to hear the movie because people were talking over it and basically mocking it. All I could think is since this is such an early screening and a privilege to attend, what if the director was there? Or if some representatives of the film were there? Luckily none were. It was almost embarrassing to be apart of it. People need to understand movie theater etiquette and how to compose themselves in a situation like this. I wish I could've experienced this in a different way.
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