Matt64’s review published on Letterboxd:
Dear Evan Hansen is not only an incompetent mess on every single level imaginable, but it has got to me one of the most infuriating, boring, and downright misguided pieces of media i have ever witnessed in my entire life.
I’m actually going to leave the story, directing, and writing because of the amount i have to say about those aspects of this monstrosity. But first, i’m going to start off by talking about the performances. There isn’t a single one in this entire film that i thought was good. Everyone’s line delivery, mannerisms, and singing voices are either wooden & flat or overdone and cheesy. One of the most prominent examples of being cheesy and overdone in their acting is the performance from Ben Platt as the titular character. He is supposed to portray a character that is diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, but the mannerisms he displays (stuttering, shaky speech/vocal patterns, etc.) on-screen come off as way too excessive and manifested to a point where it becomes way too corny of a performance to believe that Platt is crafting an authentic character. Also, because of his age, there were multiple instances where i would become spooked by how much of an unintentionally eerie presence he brings due to his appearance compared to all the other actors. It also does not help that his singing voice that he provides for the character is so tacky throughout the runtime to a point where it comes off as just as corny as his acting. Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Danny Pino, Nik Dodani, and Colton Ryan are also pretty poor in the acting and singing department since most of their delivery is stiff and lackluster on top of the fact that they are given some of the worst material to work with. Because of this, i never felt like i knew anything about who these characters truly are partly because they are portrayed in a lifeless manner.
Next up, i would have to say that this film is a huge mess in the technical department (though the sets/costumes & sound did not exactly stand out). One technical aspect of the film that truly stuck out to me because of bad it was would definitely have to be the editing. This film is edited in such a frantic fashion as a whole to a point where it is hard for the audience to become invested in what is occurring within the story since the film does not bother sucking them into it by using good establishing shots, which results in the film also suffering from horrendous pacing. The opening musical number (Looking Through A Window), in particular, had some shaky editing that pretty much set the bar for how the story was going to be presented from an editing perspective. Meanwhile, the cinematography for this film is so bland and uninspired to a point where it makes the presentation of the story feel all-the-more stale. All of the choices from a framing, composition, and lighting felt lazy and inert in their attempt to tell the story and to introduce us to the characters. The scene where Evan meets Connor’s parents for the first time at the office is one that comes to mind when talking about this because of how amateur it looks along with being a meager way to introduce us to new characters.
One other flaw that this film has is its soundtrack. There isn’t a single song that i found to be either memorable or emotionally powerful. One of the main reasons for its lack of good tunes throughout the movie are because of the combination of sluggish lyrics and generic musical compositions that back up the terrible vocals i brought up earlier. The one song that i can think of that somewhat comes close to being almost OK would have to be “So Big/So Small” (sung by Julianne Moore). However, when you take the bad lyrics, mediocre vocals, and Heidi’s (the character Moore plays) almost exuberant lack of relevance as a character to consideration, the song results in having no payoff whatsoever. “You Will Be Found” is by far the worst song in the entire film because of the problems i talked about with “So Big/So Small” on top of being a lackadaisical, Oscar-Baity inspirational song that needlessly shoves its message down your throat to an aggressive degree.
Alright folks, now it’s time to talk about the story along with how it is both written and directed. Not only is the dialogue terrible along with a lack of logic within the story, but it’s one that thinks it is being ambitious in how it tries to tackle themes such as depression, teenage anxiety, and suicide. However, all of these themes (which is also a fault in the directing department) are portrayed and explored in ways that feel either underdeveloped, specious, or even borderline reprehensible. For example, not once did i feel like Evan Hansen was portraying Social Anxiety Disorder in a way that felt true to how people with this condition would act (and this is coming from someone who has interacted with people that have this condition), and instead make this portrayal feel like a cartoon character. Plus, Evan Hansen is written as such an irredeemable, cruel, and selfish main character to a point where i felt like he was the villain in this entire scenario that i never wanted to root for, which is not how you write your main protagonist of your story. The guy makes such terrible decisions (ex. manipulating people into thinking he was friends with Connor as if he were a sociopath, which is the main crux of the story) that make me surprised to find out that he does not suffer one single consequence or feels like he learned a single lesson throughout the narrative. Basically the movie tells you that it is A-OK to exploit the suicide of someone you never interacted in order to get what you want and get away with it. It results in the film delivering such a toxic message despite it seeming like the most inspirational movie in the entire planet. It is almost as if the director and screenwriter wanted to hinge off the fact that suicide and teen anxiety exist purely to make a profit out of them. Not sure if y’all feel this exact same way about this movie, but it’s one that rubbed me in all the wrong ways and resulted in the complete degradation and destruction of my sanity by the end.
To put it shortly, Dear Evan Hansen is cinematic poison that tries its hardest into thinking it is one for the ages and that audiences will be moved by its “ambitious” storytelling and memorable songs. But in actuality, it is a complete, utter failure of a motion picture that suffers from taking what i consider to be the most cloying, lifeless, corporate, evil, and derogatory approach to both filmmaking and storytelling that i have ever witnessed in the history of film. To think that Universal Pictures was ok with presenting this offensive, gross, and pretentious abomination in theaters is something that will haunt me in the years to come and i hope (after this, Old, and Fast & Furious 9) that they improve and pick better projects to show in said theaters in the near future.