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Rated 3.06 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
You Are Not Alone
by Geoffrey D. Roberts

Evan Hansen suffers from severe anxiety and cannot function normally in director Stephen Chobosky’s film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen. In an attempt to make Evan (Ben Platt) learn to value himself and overcome crippling anxiety, his psychiatrist has assigned homework requiring him to write daily affirmations about his real self-worth. Each piece must begin with the salutation Dear Evan Hansen. This becomes a monumental problem when the school bully, Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan), snatches a printed copy of one of the letters in a fit of rage believing incorrectly that the content was meant for his sister Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever) who Evan secretly pines for.

Connor’s parents, Cynthia (Amy Adams) and Larry (Dana Pino), later think it was his suicide note written expressly to Evan. They firmly believe he was the only friend their son ever had when they find it on Connor’s person after he took his own life later that evening.

Evan intends to come clean when invited by Connor’s parents for dinner. He planned to clarify that the note is an exercise his psychiatrist assigned to him. However, he ends up deciding not to cause them more grief.

Meanwhile, Zoe refuses to mourn her brother who has spent his entire life in and out of addiction treatment centers. She feels there are no redeeming qualities about him and sides with Connor’s peers who thought he was a complete psychopath. After all, he once tried to bust down her bedroom door threatening to kill her. Therefore, she is extremely skeptical of Evan’s so-called friendship with her brother until he starts telling her everything she always wanted to hear about what her brother really thought of her. That gives her newfound confidence. When the Murphys ask Evan for all the emails between him and Connor, it forces Evan to enlist his friend Jared (Nik Dodani), a technology expert, to draft fake e-mails that look like Connor sent them to him.

The role of Evan Hansen fits Platt like a glove. He originated the character on Broadway earning a Tony Award, and Emmy and a Grammy in the process. It’s easy to feel his passion for the character. I really identified with Evan’s plight and sudden acceptance and popularity with peers due to them learning about his fictional friendship with Connor.

It’s also impossible not to identify with Amy Adams and Dana Pinto’s performances as Connor's parents. I felt empathy for them and the fact their characters had their hearts completely ripped out because of their son’s suicide. However, Julianne Moore is miscast in the role of Evan's mother. She lacks  chemistry with Platt, especially in scenes involving her knowledge of the letters and those showing her too busy with work to understand who her son really is. Moore recently indicated she was terrified of singing, and it shows. This negatively impacts her performance and her character's believability.  

Stephen Chobsky’s direction is flawless. And Stephen Levenson faithfully adapts the Broadway musical for the screen. Without preaching, he emphasizing the message that you are never alone. Also, Justin Paul and Benj Pasek’s lyrics pack quite a punch, especially in “Waving Through a Window,” “You Will Be Found,” and “Requiem.”  

 (Rated "PG-13" for suicide, some suggestive references, brief strong language and thematic material)


                                                                                                                                                                               
 
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