Dear Evan Hansen

Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) is a high school senior with a severe social-anxiety disorder. As an assignment from his therapist, Evan is required to write letters to himself. But when his latest one lands into the hands of Connor (Colton Ryan), Evan’s life unravels, especially when he learns that Connor has taken his own life a few days later. What follows is a journey of self discovery as Evan is finally accepted by those around him, allowing him to live out the life he always wanted.

To say I was looking forward to this movie was an understatement. I think this was probably THE most anticipated movie I had on my list this year. Based on the Tony Award winning musical of the same name, I was thrilled to finally have the chance to check it out for myself as I never got around to seeing the stage adaption. I can’t lie though, as soon as the critics started coming in for it, I got scared. It was…not what I had expected. Still, I went into the film with an open mind and hoped for the best.

It has been hard putting my thoughts down on paper. The story is certainly polarizing and hard to make sense of sometimes. It’s not black and white at all. Despite knowing the overall premise, there were a lot of details that were brand new to me, though I have to say that the actual plot was nothing groundbreaking or exciting. If anything, it was decent at best and at times it even dragged a bit.

I was hoping the soundtrack would be a smash. Even before seeing it, I had You Will Be Found on repeat and couldn’t wait to watch that scene unfold. One thing is for sure: Ben Platt has the voice of an angel. I have always thought so and okay, he doesn’t look at all like a high school student, but I am glad that we had him for the sake of these songs. He was the standout, everyone else’s singing chops weren’t as good as I was expecting.

The rest of the cast were fine. I like Kaitlyn Dever, but I didn’t think she had any chemistry with Ben. Their scenes together felt hollow and like they were missing something. Julianne Moore and Amy Adams, two household names who are usually amazing in everything they do, were just after thoughts. I particularly wish we had had more with Amy Adams because at least we know she can sing (thank you Enchanted). Out of them all, Nik Dodani was the breakout star. He brought some laughs which was appreciated.

I feel like the movie really wanted to do its best to raise awareness for mental health. It’s such an important topic, one that is still not talked about as freely as it should be and as somebody who struggles with depression and anxiety, I was curious to see how this would be done. While at times they exceeded in this, I felt like it could have been explored and fleshed out even more than it was. Some aspects were dealt with at a surface level or open ended which was just not enough. That being said, I still sat there in tears while the credits rolled because some of it had touched me.

Yes, Dear Evan Hansen has probably become one of the most talked about films of the year. It hit many marks and wasn’t what people were expecting. But I don’t think that should deter anybody from watching it. I hyped it up so much and felt a bit disappointed with the turn out, but I also didn’t hate it. Everyone should give it a go and decide what they think about it themselves.

Rating: ♥♥♥

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Tammy Faye Bakker (Jessica Chastain) was a singer, author, talkshow host and evangelist. When Tammy got together with her husband Jim (Andrew Garfield) and realized they had the same beliefs, they decided to go on the road to share them with others. Over the years, they created the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and a theme park. Tammy and Jim were beloved by many because of their endless messages of support and acceptance. Unfortunately for them, financial issues, rivals and scandals threatened everything that Tammy and Jim worked so hard to create for themselves proving that it is not easy staying on top.

I had only ever heard about the famous Tammy Faye while watching Drag Race so to say that I went into this movie blind would be an understatement. I think this helped enhance my experience though and I was completely intrigued the whole way through.

One of the things I liked the most was how the audience was transported back in time to see how Tammy got her start as an evangelist. This gave me the opportunity to learn about her story right from the beginning and to see how it developed over time. While I cannot say for certain just how close this adaption is, it gave me just the right amount of information I needed to enjoy the movie.

Something that I couldn’t get over at all was the phenomenal performance by Jessica Chastain. I never gravitated to her films in the past, but I think that may change now. She really did take my breath away. I almost didn’t even recognize her half of the time – the transformation that her character went through over time was amazing to see. I also really enjoyed her chemistry with Andrew Garfield. The two were great together on screen.

Despite waffling over whether or not The Eyes of Tammy Faye would really be something for me, I am happy that I went with my gut and saw it. I was enthralled the whole way through and walked out of the cinema feeling satisfied.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Jamie (Max Harwood) has always known he was different. Instead of wanting to pursue a traditional career, he knows he is destined for greatness. Jamie wants to become a drag queen. Lucky for him, he’s got a supportive mother (Sarah Lancashire), former drag queen mentor Hugo Battersby (Richard E. Grant) and an amazing best friend Pritti (Lauren Patel) who are beside him every step of the way. Not everyone may understand Jamie’s path in life, but he knows that he is meant to be a star.

I have never seen the original musical so I cannot compare this adaption to the stage production. I remember it was playing back when I lived in the UK and unfortunately never had the opportunity to check it out for myself. This seemed to be the next best thing. I live for musicals and I miss going to the theatre so badly. There were quite a few things to like about this film and I thought it was a good time overall.

The storyline was interesting and heartbreaking all at the same time. It was inspiring to see the lengths to which Jamie would go to to achieve his dreams, no matter the obstacles that were standing in his way. He was relentless and even if he got knocked back a few times, he would brush himself off and try again. The relationship he had with his mother and Pritti in particular were a joy to watch. It was refreshing to see how much they rooted for him, especially when Jamie’s dad was absent from his life.

Another strong point for me were the colourful costumes and sets. They were vibrant and exciting and fit well into the movie. If anything, there could have been even more glitter and sparkle!

To my knowledge, this was Max Harwood’s first feature film and I think he did a great job. He really embodied the role of Jamie and brought him to life. I wish we had had more backstory to Pritti who, while she was supportive, seemed a bit one dimensional and only added to the strengthening of Jamie’s arc. And who can forget Richard E. Grant in drag?

My biggest problem with the movie was that there wasn’t enough musical numbers! When there was singing and dancing, they were executed perfectly, however there were moments scattered throughout where it was lacking. When this happened, I felt like the story would fall flat and I would lose interest.

Overall, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie was as close to a musical as I have gotten in about a year and a half and so I enjoyed it for that reason. I think I expected more from it though and was therefore left feeling underwhelmed with certain aspects. At least there were some positives that came out of it too.

Rating: ♥♥.5


Alex (Winslow Fegley) loves horror stories. He loves writing them and he loves reading them, though sometimes this sets him apart from the other kids in his class. When nobody shows up to his birthday party, Alex decides to burn all of his story books. What he doesn’t expect is while he is on his way to do so, he is lured by a witch into her swanky, modern apartment where he becomes his prisoner. In order to avoid death, Alex convinces Natacha (Krysten Ritter) to let him tell her a scary story each night. But he is no alone in the apartment. Yazmin (Lidya Jewett) has been her servant for the past three years and she knows the ins and outs of the place. Together, Alex and Yazmin devise a plan to escape before it’s too late.

The concept for Nightbooks seemed really cool. I liked the element of Alex having to tell stories to Natacha for his freedom where that was the one thing that got home stuck in her apartment to begin with. All of the scenes that took place there were magical. I loved the special effects and everything was was incorporated to give that creepy effect. At times it really was as if the audience was supposed to be stuck in a real life nightmare.

I was mainly interested in watching the movie because of Krysten Ritter. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since she guest starred in Veronica Mars way back in the day. She hasn’t been up to much since Jessica Jones was cancelled and that’s a right shame because she’s such a delight. Winslow Fegley and Lidya Jewett were enjoyable enough as Alex and Yaz. I liked their friendship and thought they worked well off each other. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of them in the future.

Nightbooks was a fun film, but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be. It is definitely marketed towards a younger generation and it shows. I’m still glad that I watched it, I just wish it had held up the intrigue factor I felt while checking out the trailer.

Rating: ♥♥

After We Fell

The third instalment of the popular After series, After We Fell, picks up right after the events of After We Collided. Tessa (Josephine Langford) has decided to take the leap and move to Seattle. Her choice hasn’t come lightly however, especially because Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) doesn’t want her to go. Their relationship has never been easy, but as all these changes occur, revelations about both Tessa and Hardin’s family threaten to tear them apart forever.

Long story short, I am very late to the After fandom. I read all four books in the span of two weeks back in June and fell head over heels in love. Are they crap? Absolutely. Are they amazing nonetheless? Yes, yes they are. It’s like a train wreck I couldn’t look away from and eventually I had to admit to myself that I was obsessed. So, you could imagine my excitement that I would finally have the opportunity to see one of the films on the big screen. I had high hopes for this one as book three is my favorite. The previous two instalments were fine, however I still wanted more from them. Book three had a lot to live up too.

There was a lot to appreciate in this movie. Both Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin have grown so much since they started this journey together and you can really tell this time around. Hero, in particular, really impressed me (and no, I’m not just saying that because I’m in love with him). It seems like he’s grown over the years and he really made me feel for him. Their chemistry together is on fire, it almost doesn’t seem real.

I loved that for once, it seems like we finally have a director who understands these characters and knows how important it is to deliver a close to perfect book to film adaptation for fans. Castille Landon did a fabulous job incorporating as much as she could from the largest volume in the series and I’m thrilled that she’s on board for the fourth and final one too.

After We Fell exceeded my expectations entirely. I really wasn’t sure what to expect going into it and was satisfied walking out of the cinema. Now excuse me while I wait (im)patiently for After Ever Happy.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

The Voyeurs

When young couple Pippa (Sydney Sweeney) and Thomas (Justice Smith) move into their dream apartment in Montreal, they are excited to embark on this next stage of their relationship. They soon realize that they can look directly into the apartment across the way. Inhabited by photographer Seb (Ben Hardy) and former model Julia (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), it’s impossible for Pippa and Thomas to look away. What starts off as innocent curiosity turns into a full blown obsession that will lead to inevitable disaster.

The Voyeurs is unlike any movie I have seen before. The concept was foreign to me and if it wasn’t for Sydney Sweeney, I probably wouldn’t have watched it. But my interest peaked while checking out the trailer and I knew I had to see what it was all about. What started as me being skeptical turned into full on investment and at some point I couldn’t even turn my eyes away from the screen. I needed to see what was going to happen next!

While the film is graphic on many levels, it’s important to look past it in order to fully appreciate the story. I don’t want to say too much and spoil it, but we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.

I appreciated the young talent shown throughout. Sydney Sweeney’s star is definitely on the rise. Starting out in Euphoria and most recently starring in The White Lotus, girl is going places and I can’t wait for her career to flourish even more. Justice Smith was a great choice as Thomas – his chemistry with Sydney was believable and realistic. The couple across the street portrayed by Ben Hardy and Natasha Liu Bordizzo were entrancing and kind of scary. And for fans of Kim’s Convenience, Jean Yoon has a supporting role as Pippa’s boss.

Yes, The Voyeurs comes across as trashy, however it is anything but. It was really surprising and kept me guessing the whole way through. I wouldn’t write it off just yet.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings

The much anticipated Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings premiered in cinemas this Friday. Shang Chi, or Shaun (Simu Liu) as he goes by most of the time, is a seemingly normal guy who works as a valet driver with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). But when his past comes back to haunt him, he is forced to confront it as well as his father who just so happens to be notorious villain Mandarin (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung). Being the master of unarmed weaponry in Kung Fu, Shang Chi hopes his skills will help him in combating the Ten Rings organization all while saving the world at the same time.

I had such high hopes for this movie. Origin stories for superheroes can be very hit or miss and they hyped this one up like crazy. I am happy to say that it completely and totally exceeded my expectations! I can’t get over how good it was or how much I liked it. I was transfixed the whole way through and at times I found myself shaking my head at what I was seeing unfold in front of me.

The casting for Shang Chi himself was always on point for me. Simu Liu seems like such a down to earth guy and I couldn’t imagine anybody else in this role. He’s become a little Toronto treasure and I am proud to live in the city from where he hails. Awkwafina brought the much needed comedic relief and I just loved watching her friendship with Shang. I really hope they don’t make them go down the romantic route because it’s so refreshing to see a healthy boy girl friendship for once. Mandarin is possibly one of the most heartbreaking villains to ever come out of the MCU. Learning about his backstory and what his motives were really made you feel for him. A highlight for me was Shang’s sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) who I knew nothing about beforehand. Not only was she a complete badass, but she had a lot of depth too and I hope we see more of her in future films. And to have Michelle Yeoh in this as well was just a treat. She’s such a queen and her role here was no exception.

I cannot get over the special effects that were used. It seemed to be on a whole other level this time around and I don’t know how Marvel does it. The fight sequences were also impressive. In particular, the final one in Ta-Lo was like nothing I had ever seen before. Everything about it was A+ and deserves awards.

Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings was the first superhero movie to have proper Asian representation. It really was beautiful to be able to witness that. Everything about it was flawlessly executed that I can’t say anything to fault it. It’s no secret that I’m more of a DC girl but even I have to say that Marvel smashed it here. I think it’s my favorite one to date.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


A modern take on the classic fairytale, this new version of Cinderella follows an ambitious woman named Ella (Camila Cabello) who dreams of becoming a dressmaker. Living in the basement of her stepmother Vivian’s (Idina Menzel) house with only three mice (James Corden, James Acaster & Romesh Ranganathan) as friends, Ella knows she has what it takes to change her life for the better. When she bumps into Robert (Nicholas Galitzine), a handsome stranger who just so happens to be the prince, her choice of pursuing her dreams or following her heart suddenly seems impossible to choose between.

Let me start by saying that I think people are taking this movie way too seriously. It’s supposed to be fun and light and I think it succeeded. I enjoyed the updated plot and how they tried to blend together pieces of the original in with the twenty first century.

While some of the casting choices weren’t the best, I have to say that Camila Cabello’s acting wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. She wasn’t my favorite by far, but she didn’t bother me like I had anticipated. Idina Menzel was fabulous as Vivian and I appreciated how we were able to understand more about why her character was the way she was. Tallulah Greive who played Princess Gwen was a surprise; I only wish we had more of her. The best part of the whole film was Billy Porter. He brought a whole new meaning to being a fairy godmother and his one scene was simply not enough! I only wish Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver as King Rowan and Queen Beatrice were more convincing in their roles.

The best part of Cinderella was the singing and dancing. Mixing famous covers and original songs was brilliant and the dance sequences made me want to get up and sway along.

Overall, Cinderella was a good time and I think people should give it some more credit.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Afterlife of the Party

Cassie (Victoria Justice) has always been the life of the party. No matter the occasion, she will drop everything to have a good time and her twenty fifth birthday is no exception. But when Cassie unexpectedly dies, she is transported to the ‘in between’ where she meets an angel named Val (Robyn Scott). Val tells Cassie that she has a chance to make amends with the important people in her life which will ultimately determine her path into the afterlife. Cassie thinks making her parents (Adam Garcia and Gloria Garcia) and best friend Lisa (Midori Francis) know she is okay will be a walk in the park however she soon realizes that she may need to put more work into it before it’s too late.

This supernatural comedy was something of a surprise for me. It had looked cute in the trailer, but of course I went into it not expecting much. And while the movie was no masterpiece, I enjoyed it for what it was. Sometimes you just need a mindless chick flick, you know?

The plot was different and interesting. I liked how Cassie was given a second chance and the audience had the opportunity to see her grow into a better version of herself. Victoria Justice did a good job in her role. A standout for me, however, was Midori Francis of Dash and Lily fame. I really liked her in that when it came out over Christmas and it is great to see her acting in more roles. Also, Robyn Scott as Val also provided a lot of necessary comedic relief.

Afterlife of the Party was one of those films that just made me smile and believe in happy endings despite the heavier underlying themes. It won’t be winning any awards anytime soon, but it was something I needed in the moment and that was enough for me.

Rating: ♥♥♥