Dear Evan Hansen review – satanically ingenious musical is suffocatingly ersatz

By the end of its long running time, there’s something entirely unbearable about this pass-agg weepie teen-empathy musical, adapted from the 2015 stage hit. And that’s despite a satanically ingenious high-concept premise involving a letter of which even the great romdram novelist Nicholas Sparks, author of Message in a Bottle, might approve.

Ben Platt reprises his Broadway performance as Evan Hansen, the wretchedly lonely and unpopular high-schooler, nursing a broken arm in a cast and on all sorts of anxiety medication, whose therapist has got him writing tragically upbeat letters to himself, beginning “Dear Evan Hansen”. One day in a fit of gloomy honesty he types out a letter to himself in the first person, saying just how horrible his life is, rashly prints it out at school and the letter is stolen by a troubled, angry kid called Connor (Colton Ryan) who bullies Evan, sarcastically signs his cast but is perhaps himself a kindred spirit of unhappiness. When Connor takes his own life, the letter is found on him, and his anguished parents (Amy Adams and Danny Pino) wrongly assume Connor wrote it, and that Evan was his best friend; they are desperately holding on to this consolatory fantasy that Connor at least had some relationship. And foolish Evan finds himself going along with this fiction out of sympathy, but also because it makes him a huge social-media celebrity at school and gives him an in with Connor’s smart sister Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever) on whom he’s always had a desperate crush.

In many ways, Dear Evan Hansen is a solemn version of Bobcat Goldthwait’s black-comic satire World’s Greatest Dad from 2009, starring Robin Williams as a failed wannabe writer who discovers his teenage son has died in an autoerotic asphyxiation accident, fakes a heart-wrenching suicide note and diaries for him, and as the tragic dad achieves some of the fame he always yearned for. But of course Dear Evan Hansen refuses the comic or ironic potential of its story: the pure creepiness of his pseudo-brother-slash-boyfriend approach to Zoe is not acknowledged, nor his Munchausen’s personality in general – though there is one song-and-dance number in which a fantasy version of Connor acts out the sentiments of a fake email conversation concocted for Evan by stereotypically tech-savvy Jared (Nik Dodani), the regulation teen-movie cynical best friend.

Jared is conveniently non-judgmental about all this, a proposito: you could spend almost the entirety of the film wondering not just when Evan is going to be unmasked and disgraced, but also the culpable Jared. That’s something the plot skates around. Alla fine, this film suffocates you with ersatz compassion and personal growth.

I commenti sono chiusi.