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Recommended age 12-18
237 minutes
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The film musical Dear Evan Hansen, directed by Stephen Chbosky, is phenomenal and breathtaking. I really enjoyed watching this, because it is a true original, outstanding musical that speaks directly to the heart. Dear Evan Hansen is something extraordinary; it is not like any musical I have watched before and it has a really powerful message as it engages with the real world in ways that most musicals don't.

Evan Hansen is an anxious, isolated high-school student who's aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social media age. He soon embarks on a journey of self-discovery when a letter he wrote for his therapy writing exercise falls into the hands of a grieving couple whose son took his own life. Evan is tossed in the tumult of a fractured, grieving family. Connor's parents believe Evan was his best friend. But the reality is far different. Evan plays along with the charade, gaining the fame, adulation and love that he's always dreamed of - all at the expense of Connor's memory.

My favourite actor is Evan's mother Heidi (Julianne Moore). Heidi is a single mom, working late-night nursing shifts to afford college for Evan. She desperately wants the best for him, even when he doesn't notice her efforts. The film's best scenes revolve around her; the first occurring when Cynthia and Larry offer to cover Evan's tuition. She's proud. And you can see the gears shifting inside of Heidi's head before she declines. The film offers sympathy to all its characters by offering them the chance to sing their feelings out and make a case as to why they matter.

The message of this film applies to teens trying to overcome social anxieties, reminding them that it's okay to be anxious and depressed, and that being medicated for those things, if necessary, is normal and healthy. However, don't change yourself just to fit into society; stand up for yourself. If something happens and you are caught up in the situation, be confident in yourself, no matter what. A note of caution: this film does address suicide, has some strong language and some suggestive references.

I give Dear Evan Hansen 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this film for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theatres now.

By Josephine M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Dear Evan Hanson is one of the most relatable films released this year. It paints the perfect picture of how many people have felt about emerging from the pandemic and how they have coped with it.

The storyline follows a high school senior named Evan Hanson (Ben Platt) and his transition between a traumatic summer to his last year of high school. He starts the year with an odd series of events that affect the rest of his year and his life.

Ben Platt has always been one of my favorite actors to watch. He plays such a vulnerable, emotional and relatable character that many young adults can relate to. He gives a raw performance showing what social anxiety and depression may look like in a high school setting. This film is adapted from the Tony Award-winning musical by the same name, but the musical numbers don't show up a lot. There is more dialogue, which I enjoyed. I cried more than three times during this film, which shows you how much the film's message affected me. Like Ben Platt we see other emotional performances from Colton Ryan (Connor Murphy) and Cynthia Murphy (Amy Adams). Larry Murphy (Danny Pino) represents society in the way that many are ignorant to the signs and severity of mental health issues of those around us. The opening scene's musical number Waving Through a Window is the best introduction to a main character I have seen. Through lyrics and non-verbal cues the actors send a message that made me think of my own health and question the society that young adults are dealing with today.

The message of this film is that it is okay to know that you are not okay. Anyone, at any point in time, may be going through a tough time; take care of yourself, and maybe even write a letter to yourself like Evan does in this film. You should be aware that the film does mention suicide and other mental health issues that may be an issue for some viewers.

I give Dear Evan Hanson 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theatres now.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

see youth comments
The breathtaking, generation-defining Broadway phenomenon becomes a soaring cinematic event as Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Ben Platt reprises his role as an anxious, isolated high schooler aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social-media age.
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