The ones suffering from mental health don’t need medicines as much as they need love and acceptance. They are the broken people who need someone close to wrap up their shattered pieces. They only wish to be a part of something where they belong and are not alone. Stephen Chbosky, who visited such conflicts in his famous narrative, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, brings to screen another tale of a lonely, asocial teenager in his directorial musical film, Dear Evan Hansen.
Based on a stage musical, Dear Evan Hansen follows a socially anxious teenager, Evan Hansen, who unintentionally crosses the moral line. He lies about his friendship with a dead schoolmate and suddenly becomes a center of attraction. Evan gets the love and warmth he seeks but consciously knows that his mere invention someday has to end.
Directed by Stephen Chbosky, the film portrays his signature style of innocent emotions, and Steven Levenson’s musical play makes it more interesting. It’s a treat for weary hearts, yet it can be easily forgotten.
‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Plot Summary
A senior high school teenager, Evan Hansen (Ben Platt), lives with his divorced mother, Heidi (Julianne Moore). Evan suffers from social anxiety and thus takes therapy sessions from Dr. Sherman. The doctor recommends that Evan write feel-good letters to himself for his medication to help him get through the day.
Before leaving for school, Heidi suggests Evan make some friends in school and get someone to sign the cast on his arm. In school, Evan asks his family friend, Jared Kalwani (Nik Dodani), to sign the cast and narrate how he fell from the tree while working as an apprentice park ranger at Ellison State Park. Jared bluntly refuses, underlining that they are family friends and not actual friends.
In the school corridor, an aggressive Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan) threatens Evan after a misunderstanding. His sister, Zoe Murphy (Kaitlyn Dever), says sorry for his brother’s violent behavior. However, Evan gets nervous because he has a crush on Zoe and, in embarrassment, runs away from there.
Evan re-edits his letter in the library and mentions his feelings for Zoe. But mistakenly, he sends out a printout. Evan walks towards the counter to get the letter when he counters Connor again. Connor seeks forgiveness and signs Evan’s arm cast to make him feel good. However, Connor gets hold of Evan’s printed letter and reads his sister’s name on it before leaving. Connor believes Evan thinks he is crazy and gets hysterical. Connor takes the letter and leaves.
The next day, Connor’s parents, Cynthia Murphy (Amy Adams) and Larry Mora (Danny Pino) pay a visit to Evan in school. They inform him about Connor’s suicide and the letter they found in his pocket. Cynthia believes Evan and Connor must be close friends, so he wrote him a letter and signed his cast. To comfort the grieving parents, he lies about his friendship.
Evan tries to help and encourage the parents and invents a myth based on lies and deception. After getting love from Connor’s parents and attention from all his schoolmates, Evan decides to continue his invention. But anything based on a lie doesn’t survive long, and the truth is bound to come out someday.
The Invention of the Lies
Evan Hansen created a fictional narrative about how Connor helped him when he fell from the tree while hiking his parents’ favorite apple orchard. The story and Connor’s act of kindness lure the internet, and soon Evan becomes a humble saint. Another student, Alana Beck (Amandla Stenberg), proposed “The Connor Project,” a student group dedicated to mental awareness, to feel important.
The deceptive act of kindness spread like wildfire, and soon Evan got all the love and attention he craved for. Even Zoe shared her feelings for Evan, and from thereon, the world was like a happy dream. The Murphys proposed paying Evan’s college fees, but Evan’s mother, Heidi, declined the offer bluntly. The incident widened the gap between the mother and son, but symbolically, it suggested an upcoming storm.
Due to Evan’s absence from “The Connor Project,” Alana doubted whether Evan was actually friends with Connor. According to her, Evan mentioned in his emails about climbing trees with Connor in June, but they were in school in June. Additionally, Evan didn’t have a cast until September, and thus the timelines don’t match at all. Evan emailed her Connor’s suicide note (or the letter he had in his pocket when he killed himself) to earn her trust.
Making Peace with Truth
When “The Connor Project” failed to achieve the required threshold, Alana uploaded the letter on the internet to gain attention. However, the letter backfired as the humans of the internet called Connor’s parents monsters because he wrote a suicide letter to Evan and not his parents. Evan observed the mess at Murphy’s house and blamed himself for ruining their happiness. It was time for Evan to step in and reveal the truth.
Evan informed the family about the lies he had invented about his friendship with Connor and why he did it. He thought he could be a part of the happy family. Evan’s father left him when he was 7 years old, and his mother was always at work. He never experienced the kind of warmth and love before, and he had the perfect girl by his side. Like all human beings craving a bit of acceptance, Evan got greedy. Yet, there was no worthwhile explanation for his actions. Words failed him. That’s all he could say. Evan left the house.
A moving flashback scene established that Evan didn’t fall from the tree. Instead, he jumped. He tried to kill himself but somehow survived the fall. Evan hid the truth from his mother because she thought Evan was a broken teenager, a burden to her. In the climax sequence, Evan and Heidi bridged their gaps. As Heidi explained, after Evan’s father’s departure, she tried her best to fill the void and may have made some mistakes in the pursuit of that goal. Soon after, Evan recorded a video informing everyone of his lies and fictional friendship with Connor. He requested the internet to stop blaming Connor’s parents for his suicide. Without further ado, he posted the video.
‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Ending Explained
Connor was gone, yet Evan wanted to know him. He contacted Connor’s friends and read all his favorite books to understand the person better. Soon, he came across a person, Derek Reynolds, who was in recovery with Connor. Derek sent Evan a video about Connor singing and playing guitar. Before the school memorial, Cynthia Murphy told Evan that Connor used to write songs and play guitar. However, he never played for his family. And Cynthia always wanted to listen to his son sing. The video with Connor singing helped his family find closure, or at least, it made them feel a little closer to their son.
In the end, Evan met Zoe at Connor Murphy Memorial Orchard. She wanted to meet Evan before leaving for school. Evan told her that he had decided to take a year off to save some money and probably think about his silly mess. Zoe still had feelings for Evan, but something was better left unsaid. She wished if they had met “today,” things between them would have been different. Before leaving, Zoe told Evan that she asked him to meet at the orchard because she wanted him to see the place where Evan’s fictional story with Connor took place. Evan wrote himself a letter at the orchard cafe, promising to be himself no matter what happened.
Dear Evan Hansen is a 2021 coming of age musical drama film directed by Stephen Chbosky. It is based on a musical stage play written by Steven Levenson.