TIFF 2021: “Dear Evan Hansen”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are always moments when we think we are misunderstood, blamed and judged for something we had nothing to do with. Also, people think if we are emotional, loud and extremely cheerful or angry from the outside, we are bad and should be ignored.

Evan Hansen (reprising his role from the stage, a wonderful Ben Platt) suffers from social anxiety. He feels lonely, lacks in communicating with his mother, and is seen as a strange and distant person at school. As part of his therapy, he should have written a note to himself, starting with Dear Evan Hansen. What’s meant to be a personal message turns into a global thing with an outcome he never expected.

Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan), one of the most interesting supporting characters, is always angry and in the mood to fight. He yells at everybody, distances himself from his parents and minimizes contact with his sister. One day when he was at the library, he saw Evan. Their interaction was friendly, almost as if Connor finally finds a nice young man.

But when he saw the printed note of Evan to himself, with reference to Connor’s sister, Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever), the man got angry, took the note and left. Three days later, Evan was asked to come to the principal’s office, where Connor’s parents were waiting to give him Connor’s last note – the same letter Evan wrote to himself, as Connor’s last thing he ever did before he took his own life.

I cannot start to begin to describe how beautifully crafted this film is. Every scene is filled with energy, love and care. Evan could not tell the truth to Connor’s parents about the origin of the letter. What was meant to be a white lie turns into a viral phenomenon that keeps screaming: “Watch me, watch me, watch me.” Adapted from a Broadway show and directed by Stephen Chbovsky, the film is a love letter to anyone who feels alone in this big world to remind them once again – you’re really not.

That being said, words will never succeed in describing how urgent this film is, needs attention and must be carried in the heart. The importance is so significant, it is almost like a force you cannot resist against. A stellar cast featuring Ben Platt as Evan Hansen, Kaitlyn Dever as Connor’s sister, Julianne Moore as Hansen’s mother, Amy Adams as Connor and Suzy’s mother, Colton Ryan (reprising his role from the stage production) as Connor is like a dream team you wished for Christmas.

To conclude, “Dear Evan Hansen” is a brilliant and smart musical drama about deception, depression, being misunderstood, loneliness and the importance of having communication. Rejection should never be part of anyone’s life, especially those who are believed to be rejected by their family, society and even friends. There is a lot we can learn from it, no doubt about that. We can lie, we can deceive someone. What Evan Hansen did was wrong. But the outcome is the best part. We need to begin the important conversation, hold each other’s hands and never let someone go who is in pain.

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