‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Review – The Hollywood Reporter

It’s easy to see why the Toronto International Film Festival chose to start its 46th edition with the world premiere of To Evan Hansen. After all, what better option is there to reflect post-cohort fervor than the movie version of the Broadway musical about forging human connections in a lonely and empty world? sure?

Less obvious is the extent to which fans will accept an adaptation, however, sincerely, they often fall short of their emotional high point.

To Evan Hansen

Key point

Hitting a universal chord, if oscillating,

Meeting: Toronto International Film Festival (Gala)

Release date: Friday, September 24

Cast: Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Julianne Moore, Amy Adams

Manager: Stephen Chbosky

Writer: Steven Levenson

Rated PG-13, 2 hours 17 minutes

Filmed last summer in the heat of the pandemic under the direction of Stephen Chbosky (The perks of being a wallflower), with Ben Platt portraying his influential, Tony-award winning lead, the film prides itself on sharing lightly crafted moments.

But in the story’s transition from a two-act to a three-act proposition, Platt’s Hansen isn’t the only one who feels from the outside looking in at times, as the command opens intimate settings too often. resulting in numbers that combine distant collages and clichés in music videos to reduce their validity.

A weakness of the formula, combined with a substantial weighted run time, consistently outweighs many of the film’s good points, provided by a supporting cast that includes Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Colton Ryan, Julianne Moore and Amy Adams.

Losing a few pounds and growing her hair (on top of wiggles when the first trailer was released), Platt, 27, is convincingly reminiscent of her teenage self as the introverted Hansen, Drug overdose, a high school student whose palms sweat habitually puts him at a distance from the cool kids.

However, he is reluctant to come into the spotlight when one of the therapeutic letters of encouragement he has written to himself appears in the possession of his sociopath classmate Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan). , who took his own life. Believing Evan is her son’s only connection, Connor’s mother (Amy Adams) invites him into their home, prompting Hansen to forge a non-existent friendship between them that is sure to spiral out of control. control.

Along the way, Evan bonds with both Connor’s older sister, Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever), and the school’s resident activist, Alana (Amandla Stenberg), and finds herself less “waving through the window” in the process. .

As for the themes of the songs in the theatrical version, four of them were not included in the film, including the original opening, “Anybody Have a Map.” In their place is a pair of new Benj Pasek-Justin Paul numbers, including the stinging “The Anonymous Ones” performed by Stenberg.

They fit well with Hansen’s tapestry that, for the most part, transitions from live dramatic scenes (provided by Steven Levenson, based on his book for the stage show) to song, especially the quintessential reading. Platt’s interpretation of “You Will Be Found” and Moore’s lovely take on “So Big / So Small,” two tunes unencumbered by clever visual embellishments.

The absence of a more cohesive unifying tone is evident in director Chbosky’s non-musical renderings, which also sometimes struggle to find a pleasant balance between theatrical and dramatic.

Despite the annoying distractions, Platt and company managed to get the right message across at the right time.

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