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Where the Crawdads Sing – Movie Review
July 19, 2022

Synopsis: A woman who raised herself in the marshes of the deep South becomes a suspect in the murder of a man she was once involved with.

Director: Olivia Newman

Stars: Daisy Edgar Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn

Daisy Edgar Jones is having a solid year. We are barely passed the halfway mark, and she is now in her second major release of the year, to say nothing of her television work. Earlier this year she starred in the dating thriller Fresh and now she is in the film adaptation of the bestselling book Where the Crawdads sing.  I was tempted to read the book before seeing the film, but I’ve been disappointed too many times when I try that. (Looking at you Girl on a Train and The Woman in the Window)

So going into this without any expectations and having seen the trailer months ago I was somewhat blind to what was in store for me. This is the tale of Kya. Kya has had a rough life. She grew up in an abusive home and has seen family member, after family member leave until she’s on her own. And before you can scream ‘Child Services’ don’t worry, they are on it, but she’s elusive. In life we often talk about street smarts vs book smarts and while she hasn’t spent a full day in a classroom Kya is very intelligent in other ways.

She knows the woods like the back of her hand. Kya is a survivor.

Kya is also something of a recluse. She is known as ‘The Marsh Girl’ to the locals because, well, she lives in the marshes, but you don’t see her hanging out with a lot of friends. Her loner style personality makes her the subject of a lot of gossip. There are those that like her, but those people seem to far and few between.

A young man is presumably murdered and due to circumstantial evidence Kya is arrested. Now the person without any friends, is about to be judged by her peers…who already have prejudgements about her.

The film talks place over the course of multiple flashbacks. From her younger years in a challenging home, to her teen years where she is trying to navigate through that thing called love and her as a young adult as she tries to find her purpose.

Daisy Edgar Jones does a fantastic job with the material she is given. I think she morphed very well into this role. I think one of the great aspects of acting is becoming your character and this year, from a theatrical standpoint, she is two for two.

This movie should and will foster discussion. Kya is a strong female character but unlike the strong female characters we may be used to. She’s different than Carey Mulligan’s Cassandra in Promising Young Woman and different than Frances McDormand’s Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and different than, well any Jessica Chastain role but she deserves to be in the conversation. There is just something different to this character. Her confidence is more subtle. Olivia Newman has directed a strong performance in an actress who is starting to spread her wings.

There are good performances in the film. David Strathairn is about as consistent as they come, and he delivers another solid performance as Kya’s defence attorney.

This movie is very picturesque with the backgrounds of the marshes of North Carolina surrounding this story. You will long for going on a motorboat ride and enjoying the peaceful tranquility that nature provides. Cinematographer, Polly Morgan, has captured a very beautiful film.

I did find the pacing of the film was uneven. Sometimes the film feels very slow and sometimes the opposite. The last few scenes of the movie feel very rushed. The ending hit me with major ‘Oh, that’s it’ vibes.

There are also aspects of the film that seem very unrealistic. I won’t spoil anything but at times I am left scratching my head.

This story may have been better served as a limited series on a streaming service but if the director was adamant that it needed to be a feature film, a little more running time would have been better to properly close out the film. It’s as if the lights came on and someone yelled ‘Party is over. Time to leave’.

The movie will make the people at Hallmark films, very proud as it definitely gives off that type of feeling.

I’ll be very interested in the reaction of those who have read the book as I doubt the movie adaptation did it justice. Where The Crawdads Sing will bring a lot of fans of the book to the theatre. I’m just not convinced they will all leave the theatre thrilled with the big screen version.

Grade: C+






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