Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is a movie adaptation of the novel of the same name by Delia Owens. The movie is set in the early 1950s in the fictional town of Barkley Cove, North Carolina. Kya Clark (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a young girl who lives in isolation after she is abandoned by her family. She becomes friends with Tate Walker (played by Taylor John Smith), a local boy who helps her learn how to read and write. When Tate also abandons her, Kya becomes involved with Chase Andrews (played by Harris Dickinson), the town’s golden boy. When Chase is found dead, Kya becomes the prime suspect.

The movie begins with the murder, unlike in the book. In the movie, Kya is arrested and put on trial at the start. The trial is the central focus of the movie, whereas in the book it is a secondary plotline. The movie does a decent job of adapting the book’s complex plot and characters for the screen. However, it lacks the lyrical prose of the novel, which is one of the novel’s greatest strengths.

Daisy Edgar-Jones gives a breakout performance as Kya. She conveys Kya’s isolation, desperation, and hope. The movie is worth watching for her performance alone. The movie is visually stunning, with sweeping shots of the North Carolina marshes. It’s a beautiful backdrop for the story. In addition to her relationships with the two men in the story, a black couple also befriends Kya – Jumpin’ (played by Sterling Macer Jr) and Mabel (played by Michael Hyatt). Their relationship is one of the most complex and interesting relationships in the movie.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is not perfect. The film’s pacing is uneven, and it struggles to find the right tone. The murder mystery plot is too convoluted and not particularly interesting. And the relationship between Kya and Chase feels forced and unconvincing. And there is no explanation of what a crawdad is! My understanding is that a crawdad is a freshwater crustacean that resembles a small lobster. They are also known as crayfish, crawfish, and crawdaddies. They live in the swamps battling for their existence – a metaphor for Kya’s own battle to survive.

The themes of love, loss, betrayal, and redemption are at the heart of this movie. Kya’s story is a moving tale of human resilience in the face of great adversity. The ending is hopeful, though not without tragedy.

Overall, WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is a beautiful but flawed adaptation of a great novel. It’s worth watching for the stunning visuals and Daisy Edgar-Jones’ performance. But be prepared to be disappointed if you’re expecting a faithful adaptation of the book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

(In cinemas in Australia – check your movie guide for your local show times.) 

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