Don’t Listen to the Critics, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ is a No-Brainer


Screenshot Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Dear Evan Hansen, 

A young man beset by social-anxiety disorder, is ordered by his therapist to write self-addressed motivational letters to himself in order to improve his disposition and communication skills. After one of these missives is stolen by a classmate who subsequently takes his own life, the deceased’s parents believe it to be a genuine note intended for Evan, who ingratiates himself with the family. As this relationship deepens, he begins to truly understand what it means to belong.  

Having seen and loved the play, I was worried when I read that reviews for this movie were pretty bad. But luckily enough, I’m happy to report that the movie is really moving and powerful, I really enjoyed it!  

It definitely had some of the problems the play had, and those were more noticeable here, but honestly, with the way the story is told, it’s easy to look past them, especially because of the amazing, emotionally resonant songs, each containing their own powerful messages and themes. From “You Will Be Found” to “If I Could Tell Her” or even “Words Fail” they were all translated perfectly to the screen and performed so beautifully. I especially loved the way they handled “Sincerely, Me” (my personal favorite). Stephen Chbosky, the director, really translated the dynamic sequences from the stage to the screen in brilliant ways, but some of it doesn’t feel as interesting or visually appealing as it does in the play.  

All the musical sequences were still stunning, however, I was pretty sad to see some great (and important) songs were cut from the play. I really missed “Anybody have a Map?” and “Good for You”, and though not having them here detracted from the overall film. “Anybody” sets up the family dynamics and gives a bit more exposition before jumping into “Waving through a Window”, and “Good for You” which shows the pain of Evan’s mom discovering the new family Evan found. The new songs were excellent too, especially “A Little Closer” which delivered a new (and better) ending to both Evan and Connor’s story.  

I thought this ending definitely was better than the one in the play as it redeems Evan a little more in my mind. Speaking of which – Evan is somewhat unlikeable for a lot of the film. Much like the play, Evan makes poor decisions, but I honestly still feel emotionally connected to him based on the circumstances he was put in, as I can understand why he did what he did, despite knowing it was the wrong choice.  

And Ben Platt really helps sell it!  

Truly, I didn’t notice his age at all, especially once he started to sing. His voice is perfect and I can’t imagine anyone else playing this character, it had to be him. He did seem to still perform like he does on stage instead of in front of a camera, but I still think he did a great job portraying the anxiety and social awkwardness.  

The film itself really highlights issues of mental health struggles, anxiety and dealing with grief so well and provides messages of hope through the powerful lyrics. It truly shows the difficulties of navigating life in general and I think it’s an important note that the movie points out. I also loved the rest of the cast, from Kaitlyn Dever to Amy Adams and even Colton Ryan! 

Now, the movie isn’t perfect and definitely has its problems, but I think if you liked the play and the songs, it’s a no-brainer – you should definitely see it. It had me crying and I really was stunned by the incredibly impactful and emotional story; I was completely drawn in. Don’t listen to the critics on this one folks, it may not be perfect but it’s surely a wonderful film and is a great translation from the play.  

Sincerely, Me