DEAR EVAN HANSEN*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens with high schooler Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) attempting to write a letter to himself as per the suggestion of his therapist as a sort of exercise. He suffers from anxiety and depression, and he isn’t very sure of himself. Evan lives with his mother Heidi (Julianne Moore), a nurse who isn’t always at home. She suggests that he ask his classmates to sign the cast on his arm that he got after breaking his arm when falling from a tree at Ellison State Park. Evan goes to school where he doesn’t feel like he fits in (“Waving Through A Window”).
During the school’s pep rally, Evan sits with the only kid who talks to him, Jared Kalwani (Nik Dodani), and that’s only because their parents are friends. They notice Evan’s crush, Zoe Murphy (Kaitlyn Dever), whom Evan is too shy to talk to. After the pep rally, Evan sees Zoe’s brother Connor (Colton Ryan) getting picked on by some jocks. Evan chuckles lightly in a “don’t sweat it” kind of way to Connor, but he yells at Evan to stop laughing. Zoe approaches Evan and tries to introduce herself, but he runs away.
Evan goes to the library to try and finish writing the letter to himself. Connor approaches him and tries to ask how he broke his arm, but Evan just nervously gets up to grab his letter from the printer. Connor offers to sign the cast and writes his own name in big letters. However, he finds Evan’s letter and sees Zoe’s name mentioned, and Connor believes that Evan wrote it just so he could find it and provoke him into freaking out. He storms out, and despite Evan’s attempts to explain, Connor leaves with the letter. Evan later goes home and checks all of social media to make sure Connor didn’t post it.
Three days later, Connor hasn’t been showing up to school. Evan is called to the principal’s office where he meets Connor and Zoe’s mother Cynthia (Amy Adams) and their stepfather Larry Mora (Danny Pino). Cynthia hands Evan the note, believing that Connor wrote it for Evan. Larry says that Connor committed suicide, and that note was found on him. Although Evan tries to explain, Cynthia and Larry believe that Evan was Connor’s only friend, with his name on the cast adding fuel to that. Evan can’t bring himself to tell the truth afterwards, and soon after the rest of the school learns of Connor’s death, everyone starts to think that Evan and Connor really were friends.
Cynthia and Larry invite Evan to their home for dinner, where he finds that they are quite wealthy. During dinner, Cynthia asks Evan to tell stories about spending time with Connor, although Zoe feels that Connor isn’t worth remembering fondly because he was always so volatile. Evan then comes up with a story behind him breaking his arm as being from a time he and Connor hung out at an orchard where Connor enjoyed going to as a child (“For Forever”).
Evan goes to Jared for help to create fake emails between himself and Connor to show to Cynthia and Larry that they had some kind of correspondence to prove that there was some kind of friendship between them. Jared goes along with it, helping Evan create fake memories of spending time with Connor (“Sincerely, Me”). Cynthia sees the emails and is elated. However, Zoe and Larry are dealing with the grief in their own ways (“Requiem”), with Zoe wondering why her name was in the note.
At home, Heidi talks to Evan about Connor, but he denies having known him when talking to her about it. He eventually comes around to telling her that he was friends with Connor, but he awkwardly stumbles across his words to keep up the lie.
Zoe invites Evan over to her house to talk to him and ask why Connor mentioned her in the note. She tells him about their strained relationship and that they were only really close as kids. Evan starts to come up with things that Connor supposedly said about Zoe, but they are really just Evan telling her the reasons he is in love with her (“If I Could Tell Her”).
At school, Evan’s classmate/president of lots of clubs Alana Beck (Amandla Stenberg) approaches Evan about participating in The Connor Project as a tribute to honor Connor’s memory. Evan walks with Alana, not believing that she could be going through the same things that he has. She says that some people like her are better at hiding their true feelings (“The Anonymous Ones”), and she is also taking medication like Evan to combat her anxiety and depression. Evan brings up The Connor Project to Larry and Cynthia, and Cynthia gives Evan a necktie that she had originally bought for Connor when it was bar mitzvah season, but he never got invited to one. Evan doesn’t initially want to speak for the upcoming assembly, but Cynthia convinces him to.
The next day, everyone, plus Cynthia and Larry, gather in the auditorium for the assembly. Evan is the first to go up to speak, and he has some index cards prepared, but he fumbles through them and drops them, knocking over the mic stand in the process. While the other students get their phones out in an attempt to record his embarrassment, Evan stands up and delivers a heartfelt speech (“You Will Be Found”), and as it is recorded, it soon goes viral all across social media. People all over the country are moved by Evan’s speech and they pass it on to others that they think are going through a tough time.
Alana holds a meeting with other students for The Connor Project, where she proposes a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to reopen the orchard and rename it in honor of Connor. While Evan appears to be behind the project as much as Alana is, he ends up spending more time with Zoe and her parents. He develops a close bond with Larry since his own father barely pays attention to him. Zoe later goes to Evan’s house where she admits to developing feelings for him (“Only Us”), and the two begin a relationship, even sharing a kiss. This ends up causing Evan to neglect spending time with Heidi when she is free, and he misses meetings for The Connor Project, with Alana and Jared holding the meetings to less and less people.
Evan and Heidi go to the Murphy house so Heidi can meet the family. They talk about Evan’s college prospects, and Cynthia offers to give them the money that they had originally saved for Connor’s college fund to Evan. Heidi gets offended because she thinks they are trying to be charitable knowing that she and Evan are struggling financially. Evan follows Heidi outside to try and talk to her, defending Cynthia and Larry’s choice.
Alana confronts Evan about whether or not he was really friends with Connor, as his story about his broken arm doesn’t add up – he claims that he broke it in June at the orchard with Connor but she notes that he didn’t come with the cast until September. Evan then gets out the note, now claiming that Connor really did write it. He asks her not to show it to anybody, but as she sees that the campaign hasn’t raised enough money with only two days left in the deadline, she posts it to Instagram (“The Anonymous Ones (Reprise)”).
The note goes viral but ends up painting Connor’s family as monsters, making them think that he committed suicide over his frustration with home life to the point where his note was to Evan and not his family. Alana takes the picture down, but it spreads across other social media platforms. Once Cynthia and Larry see the comments, they begin to argue. Evan goes to their house to try and explain things, but ultimately he is forced to come clean about the whole thing. He tells them he wrote the note to himself and Connor just took it with him, and that they were never friends (“Words Fail”). The family is devastated, and Cynthia tells Evan to leave.
Evan tries to talk to Zoe at school but she doesn’t want to see him. She just tells him that her parents won’t tell the truth about the note so that Evan won’t hurt himself. He later goes home and talks to Heidi, where he admits that he didn’t break his arm over an accident, but he reveals that he climbed that tree and willingly jumped in a suicide attempt. Heidi comforts Evan (“So Big, So Small”) and they hug.
Evan later records an Instagram post where he confesses to the lie and asks everyone to redirect their hatred of Connor’s parents to him. Although he becomes alienated at school again, he starts to make an effort to keep Connor’s memory alive. He looks in the yearbook and reads several books that Connor listed as his favorite, such as “Cat’s Cradle”, “Persepolis”, and “Ready Player One”. He then looks into the rehab clinic where Connor stayed and tries to get in touch with people who may have known him. Evan finds a young man named Derek Reynolds, who sends Evan a video of Connor performing a song he wrote at the clinic (“A Little Closer”). Evan sends the song to Connor’s family, as they knew Connor wrote music but he never played anything for them. Jared and Alana also see the video. Everyone is moved by it.
Sometime later, Zoe asks Evan to meet at the orchard, which has officially been renamed for Connor. She reconciles with Evan and shows him why Connor loved the place so much. After Zoe leaves, Evan sits down to write himself another letter, this time assuring himself that he is good enough and that he has to continue to persevere.
High schooler Evan Hansen suffers from anxiety and depression, having no friends at school and being unable to talk to his crush, Zoe Murphy. As part of an exercise per his therapist's recommendation, he writes a letter to himself, but after he prints it out, it's found by Zoe's brother Connor, who has a reputation for being difficult and aggressive. Connor thinks Evan wrote the note so that Connor would find it and provoke him to freak out. Connor later commits suicide, and his parents Cynthia and Larry find the note in Connor's pocket, thinking that he wrote it for Evan and believing that Evan was Connor's only friend. Although Evan wants to admit the truth, he cannot bring himself to break their hearts, and he goes along with the lie.
The lie goes deeper when Evan participates in The Connor Project at school to honor Connor, with everyone believing that the two were best friends. Evan spends more time with Connor's family, even developing a relationship with Zoe, but also putting a strain between himself and his mother Heidi. After he shows the note to classmate Alana Beck, who organized The Connor Project, she posts it online to try and get crowdfunding for renaming Connor's favorite orchard in his memory. This only causes people to view Connor's family as bad people who mistreated him and drove him to commit suicide. This also forces Evan to come clean about the lie, devastating Connor's family.
After talking to Heidi, Evan confesses the truth to her, even admitting that he broke his arm because he also attempted suicide. He later reveals the truth to social media and becomes an outcast once again, but he makes an active effort to keep Connor's memory alive by getting in touch with people who went to a rehab clinic with Connor. He finds a video of Connor playing a song he wrote, and he sends it to Connor's family.
Evan later reconciles with Zoe and vows to keep going in life by getting better and better.