‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Review: Shoddy Direction Ruins Promising Material

TIFF’s second year during the Covid-19 pandemic opened with a bigger slate (132 features compared to last year’s 60) and “Dear Evan Hansen,” an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit.

Thematically, a film about a teenager grappling with loneliness and mental health problems makes perfect sense for the festival’s inaugural film.

As artistic director Cameron Bailey noted during his introduction to the film, the coming-of-age musical touches on feelings many people have experienced during the pandemic.The film should be a hit: It touches on timely subject matter, the songs are by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (who have won awards for songs in “La La Land” and “The Greatest Showman”), and the stage musical won six Tony Awards.

Unfortunately, Stephen Chbosky’s poor directorial choices cancel out the rousing success “Dear Evan Hansen” was on stage, with a cascade of glaring distractions that continuously point out the artificiality of the genre.

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