starring Ben Platt, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amy Adams
screenplay by Steven Levenson, based on his stage play with songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
directed by Stephen Chbosky
by Walter Chaw Dear Evan Hansen is the Canadian-girlfriend grift, emerging from insecurity and good intentions--that mythological girl from a place far enough away for high-school kids that it might as well be Narnia or Middle-Earth, whose phantom existence affirms you are not as pathetic and alone as you really are. And when your Canadian girlfriend dies by house-fire or moose misadventure, perhaps there's a vein of pathos to be mined there for whatever profit grief allows. It's the illusion of depth for an immature, troubled, frightened kid, common enough that the "Canadian girlfriend" has entered the pantheon of urban fairytales. How 'bout if Dear Evan Hansen had been about the social pressures that harangue Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) into exploiting the death of a deeply unbalanced and complete stranger instead of how Evan Hansen's own terminal thoughts and attempted suicide forgive his sociopathic manipulation of a grieving family and school community? Aye, there's a movie for you--the one where Evan Hansen is a victim and not the hero, and the bad guy is not the truth of his unforgivable deception being discovered, but the overwhelming stricture to conform that weighs especially heavy on adolescents. The sneakiest thing about Dear Even Hansen is that at the end of it all, it's not actually okay that Evan is an outcast. The premise itself is the bully.