TIFF 2021: Dear Evan Hansen dir. Stephen Chbosky

Mental health. Suicide. Depression. Loss. Grief. Loneliness.

These issues are usually trapped in the individual, and though a number of us share in these things, it’s never a shared experience. We are held in the prison of our issues, in a society where social media presentation, the illusion of life being better than it is serves as the constant.

Difficult topics to tackle in any genre. But in a musical?

Director Chobsky brings the Broadway success to the screen with Ben Platt returning to the role he originally essayed on stage. Joining him from the original show is Colton Ryan as the young man who takes his life and sends the socially anxious Evan on a dangerous spiral of lies that changes everything around him.

The subject matter is difficult but the performances are exceptional and the musical numbers which allows for the poetic expression of character arcs and narratives provides a direct connection to the emotions. And while you may not leave the theatre tapping your feet, the music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, definitely hit the mark.

The supporting cast boasts Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Nik Dodani and Danny Pino, and as powerful as the stage version of the musical is, I couldn’t connect with it when I originally saw it. But on the big screen, where you can see the nuances of the actors’ performances this one had a huge emotional impact on me.

Dear Evan Hansen is a powerful experience, about issues that still need to be dragged completely into the sunlight, and it helps to know that you will be found…

Dear Evan Hansen opens on 24 September.

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