13 April 2024
From Where The Crawdads Sing

Film Review – Where The Crawdads Sing (2022)

Adapted from the bestselling novel by Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing was produced for the screen by Hello Sunshine – the company founded by Reese Witherspoon and is directed by Olivia Newman. The film follows Kya, a young girl who is abandoned by her family, who is forced to raise herself in the marshes outside of a small town. When Kya’s former boyfriend is found dead, she is instantly accused by the townsfolk as a murderer and so a trial begins.

Where the Crawdads Sing’s action predominantly takes place in the marshes of North Carolina in the 1950s and 60s. This setting, which is so full of nature both dangerous and alluring, is incredibly evocative and becomes a character within itself. Kya is seen as wild and untamed, yet beautiful, by the local community and she is the marsh personified – both are at the mercy of how others treat them, and both would rather be left alone in their tranquillity.

Daisy Edgar-Jones makes the perfect Kya. Kya is innocent and naïve in so many ways but at the same time she possesses a core of strength and is intelligent and strong-willed. Edgar-Jones plays both these sides of Kya adeptly and the audience believes in her and roots for her. Taylor John Smith and Harris Dickinson play Tate Walker and Chase Andrews respectively, the two men that come in Kya’s life and complicate it in different ways. Together, the central three are captivating and each embody their roles perfectly.

Where the Crawdads Sing has elements of being both a mystery thriller and a period drama. The film works best as the latter when Kya is relating her childhood and when the audience is simply observing the life of this resourceful girl who has become known as “The Marsh Girl.” These moments allow a myriad of emotions as we see Kya lose her family, bring herself up with nothing to her name and bloom into a smart and capable young woman.

Where the film is slightly weaker is when it becomes more of a murder mystery. This side of the story needed to be a lot more intriguing and tense to work. Where the Crawdads Sing hopes to pull the audience into a guessing game of whodunnit but a lot of the audience will find that they work out what has transpired quite quickly. The film addresses some seriously dark issues but tonally the film never really becomes that dark, so the result is that Where the Crawdads Sing feels like more of a romantic drama than a mystery thriller.

That all being said, there is something really engaging about the film. It is never laborious to watch, and the running time sailed by. Where the Crawdads Sing has a trial at its centre but the legal aspect is almost second nature to what is really on trial – a woman who is different, who doesn’t conform and who is not what others expect her to be. How we treat those we deem outsiders and the people that see others as who they really are and not the lives they live is at the heart of Where the Crawdads Sing and it is a lesson we could all learn from.

★★★★


Drama, Mystery | USA, 2022 | 15 | Cinema | Sony Pictures Releasing | Dir. Olivia Newman | Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer Jr., Garrett Dillahunt

Original review link | End Seat


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