An emotional musical drama that puts adolescent mental health in the lime light. This is one of the more relatable scripts I’ve ever seen. I am an adult now, but as a kid with social anxiety I had a very similar experience as Evan Hansen. Except much like Alana, I played sports and participated in other activities which forced me to have acquaintances. I was more anonymous. It does seem like Evan’s actions are reprehensible, but his anxiety is what causes him to act this way. Which again, is incredibly relatable. So while this film is getting a lot of criticism for it’s poor casting (rightfully so), it’s also getting a lot of flack for it’s incredibly insensitive protagonist. But I don’t think these people are allowing themselves to take in the entire narrative. Mental illness alters who we are at our core, and doesn’t allow us to conduct ourselves the way we wish we could. I have told so many lies in my life that, at the time, seemed like the best thing to do, not realizing that I was kind of being a shitty person. Basically what I’m saying is that this is a very accurate portrayal of how a high school student with social anxiety would conduct themselves in this situation.
Ben Platt’s performance was okay, but he looks 30, and almost is, so it was clearly a garbage casting decision. Having said that, he did seem to embody his character like a pro. It just wasn’t very authentic. Amy Adams is absolutely brilliant. She blows my mind every single time I watch a performance of hers, and I don’t think I’m alone there. She makes every film she’s in better, period. Her support in this film was vital and absolutely raised the overall quality of the film. Amandla Stenberg also stood out in what was a very important role in this film. I usually think of Kaitlyn Dever as more of a comedic actor, but she played her serious, emotional role with grace here.
There’s a lot to take away from this film. Firstly, Ben Platt was a poor casting decision, but it didn’t ruin the film. Secondly, If you didn’t like this movie because you thought Evan Hansen’s action were reprehensible, please do some research on adolescent mental health. More specifically, social anxiety. Lastly, because of the reaction towards this film, I’m convinced that this film did more harm than it did good, but only because it was incorrectly interpreted by most viewers. That blame unfortunately falls to the filmmaker, because shining a light on mental health can be damning and must be handled more delicately. Regardless, I believe it was a well intentioned film whether the audience was aware enough to understand it or not.