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Dear Evan Hansen: uncanny, uncomfortable & out of touch

Released just last Friday, Dear Evan Hansen has already made quite a name for itself on the internet as being the hot new movie musical to make fun of - and not without reason

By Deva Nahl, Law, Second Year

Dear Evan Hansen, released just last Friday, has already made quite a name for itself on the internet as being the hot new movie musical to make fun of. And not without reason. The film is an easy target with Ben Platt’s comically strange portrayal of Evan, the disjointed songs and its nerve to have a near 2 hour long run time, nearly as long as the stage play.

Courtesy of IMDB

Before you can even begin to take in the plot of the film, the audience is struck with the visage of Ben Platt’s face which has been oddly changed in an attempt to make him look younger but only succeeds in creating this weird uncanny valley. This in itself leaves the viewer on edge, never properly allowing them to be immersed in the film.

It’s also clear that Ben Platt, while being an incredibly talented actor, wasn’t able to translate his stage performance of Evan to a film version as his over exaggerated mannerisms and bugged out eyes feel completely out of place when paired with the more nuanced performances from his cast mates.

Courtesy of IMDB

Now for the plot, something that can only be described as a ham-fisted attempt at promoting mental health awareness while also trying to show how mentally ill people can still do bad things. Oh and don’t forget the negative effects of internet virality. Overall, the plot is a mess of themes and tones where it struggles to do too much but simultaneously only scratches the surface of the majority of them.

The songs in the movie are also oddly placed and don’t help to move the plot along. Instead each song essentially pulls the brakes on the plot for the next 3 minutes. The only entertaining song was 'Sincerely Me', where the characters seem to be genuinely having fun interacting with their environment.

Courtesy of IMDB

The song also however involves Evan and Jared faking emails from Connor as his reincarnated corpse dances them out. This sequence, while enjoyable, sticks out like a sore thumb within the catalogue of somber, depressive songs that make up the rest of the soundtrack. This song oddly makes the film feel like more of a dark comedy than a drama which is not only thematically confusing but incredibly insensitive when the film is actually trying to make a serious point about suicide and mental illness.

Courtesy of IMDB

On the whole, this film probably would have been more entertaining as a black comedy or even a psychological thriller wherein Evan, the manipulative genius he is, is a Joe from You (2018-) type character, fully leaning into his more evil nature. I suggest this because Evan is impossible to buy as a sympathetic, young, innocent and naive character (especially when a grown man is playing him) when he is actively toying with the emotions of a mourning family.

Evan treats Connor as a puppet in death, wedges himself into this grieving family as to make up for the lack of his own, and lies to a girl about her dead brother in an attempt to win her love. Despite this we are still expected to sympathise with him. An impossible feat.

I left the movie with only one thought:

Dear Evan Hansen,

Your film is way too out of touch.

Sincerely, Me.

Featured Image: IMDB

Dear Reader, will you be watching this controversial musical anytime soon?