DEAR EVAN HANSEN
The Tony and Grammy Award-winning coming-of-age musical translates surprisingly well to the screen.
Screenwriter Steven Levenson and director Stephen Chbosky’s contemporary social media age musical drama focuses on anxious, nerdy and friendless high school senior Evan Hansen (Ben Platt, who originated the role on Broadway).
Evan’s shrink gives the teenager the assignment of writing a letter to himself, and somehow the “Dear Evan Hansen” epistle ends up in the pocket of troubled Conner Murphy (Colton Ryan). After Conner’s suicide, the boy’s parents, Cynthia (Amy Adams) and Larry Murphy (Danny Pino), seek out Evan, who they believe was their son’s close friend. With the desire to alleviate Cynthia’s grief, Evan invents a friendly relationship with Connor.
Platt has to be singled-out for his stunning performance and for his 3 to 4 octave vocal range. Dealing with subjects such as teen mental illness and hope for the future, the film’s impressive sound track has a number of memorable songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
Outstanding cast members include Julianne Moore as Evan’s hard-working mom, Heidi Hansen, Kaitlyn Dever as Connor’s sister (and Evan’s crush) Zoe Murphy, and Amandla Stenberg as Westview High School student leader Alana Beck.
The film version of the hit show remains captivating and thought-provoking.
3 and 1/2 Stars
I’M YOUR MAN
The dark German language sci-fi tale was written and directed by Maria Schrader and cowritten by Jan Schomberg. “I’m Your Man” boasts terrific performances from Maren Egget and Dan Stevens.
A scientist at Berlin’s Pemagon Museum, Alma (Eggert) agrees to participate in an experiment in order to get research funds. For three weeks, she will live with Tom (Stevens), a humanoid robot who has been created as her ideal partner.
Tom speaks perfect German with a British accent as he tells Alma, “My algorithm is designed to make you happy.”
If a humanoid isn’t what she desires, holograms are also available in this future world where Alma struggles with the concept of being involved with a nonhuman.
Is that kind of love possible? But Tom displays numerous examples of human emotion and closely resembles her first love from childhood.
(Amazon, Apple TV, On Demand)
An award-winning darkly comic film cowritten and directed by Sean Daniel Cunningham, “Hudson” is the name of the quirky and reclusive main character played by David Neal Levin and also the setting — the Hudson Valley in upstate New York.
Ryan (Gregory Lay, also a cowriter), a New York actor who lives in Greenwich Village, shows up to visit his cousin Hudson.
Since his mother died recently, non-driver Hudson convinces Ryan to drive to the family’s favorite vacation spot near a huge weeping willow so that he can scatter his mother’s ashes.
The road trip in the ancient Volvo begins with the addition of Sunrise (Mary Catherine Greenawalt), a sweet-natured young woman who promises that she can guide them to their destination.
What’s unexpected here are the depths of feeling aroused by the cousins — Hudson, with his haiku poetry and lack of sophistication and the surprisingly vulnerable Ryan.
Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.