Where the Crawdads Sing is a 2022 American coming of age crime film directed by Olivia Newman, based on the 2018 novel of the same name by Delia Owens. It stars Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer Jr. and David Strathairn.
Catherine “Kya” Clark is an imagainative girl grwing up in a North Carolina marsh on the coast during the 1950’s. Her poor family live in a shack with their alcoholic and abusive father who gambles their money away. After her mother and sibling leave one by one, due to the abuse, Kya is left alone with him. Over time he softens up and then leaves her without word, a fews after the only day she spends in school. Now at the age of seven, she is completely alone, but learns how to survive, and the only way she makes any money to buy gas for her boat and food is to sell mussels she digs up herself. The other residents of Barkley Cove know little about Kya, nicknaming her “The Marsh Girl.”
On the same day her father leaves her, Kya takes his boat as far as the ocean and gets lost trying to find her way home. Luckily she runs into an older boy named Tate Walker who shows her the way home safely. He was a friend of her older brother, Jodie and had known Kya since she was very little. Tate begins visiting her in the marsh and they become good friends as teenagers. He teaches her to read, write and even loans her books. Both share an interest in natures and they eventually start a romantic relationship. However, she gets left behind when Tate goes away to college and fails to keep his promise of visiting her on the fourth of July.
Over the next few years, as her knowledge and skills of biology grow, Kya sends her artwork and research to a publisher, as Tate encouraged previously and the payment from the book helps her keep her family’s property. The publishing of the book leads her to seeing her brother Jodie again, now a military veteran. He tells her that her mother wanted to reunite with her children became sick leukemia and died. Jodie promises to visit her when he can.
By 1965, now 19 years old, Kya gets into a tryst with Chase Andrews, Barkley Cove’s popular quaterback, who promises her marriage. When Kya finds out that Chase is already engaged to another girl, furious, she ends their relationship. Meanwhile Tate returns to town wanting to appologize to Kyra for leaving her behind and rekindle their relationship, but she is unsure. Chase keeps to get Kya back and wants to contunue their sexual relationship, but she rejects him. He then violently hits her and tries to rape her but Kya successfully fights him off and threatens to kill him if he messes with her again. The threat is overheard by a local fisherman.
Later Chase is found dead at the bottom of a fire tower, from which he had fallen. The tower is located in a muddy and wet bog that gets flooded at high tide. The surrounding area had no tracks from the killer and no fingerprints were found on the tower. A shell necklace Kya had given Chase was missing and he had be wearing it the evening of his death. The next day Kya is charged with murder and the townpeople jump to the conclusion that she is guilty.
This film is like Fried Green Tomatoes meets To Kill a Mockingbird, which makes it sound like it would be a great movie, but it is good at best. Based off a bestselling novel that is actually really good, you’d think the film version would be too. The acting is eqally great from all the main cast, the scenery is absolutely beautiful and they costumes are period and setting perfect. The soundtrack is also really good. The main problem with this one is it is really slow for much of the movie. Many scenes seem to drag on and I found myself getting rather bored many times throughout.
Had this film not been so slow, it would have been more enjoyable. Also, their is lots of kissing and sex, which I know this is also a romantic movie, but the director could have dialed that back a little, as we already knew the characters were in love without so much of that. This being mainly a murder myster film, made it fairly entertaining, but not captivating, though I love a good mystery and I like romance, as I am a hopeless romantic.
I really wanted to love this movie as much as I loved the book, but I just didn’t. With the book, I couldn’t put it down, with this film adaptation, I was thoroughly bored for a good bit of it. I am so disappointed I couldn’t like the movie as much as novel. I just don’t understand why it had to be so slow, why so much making out and sex and unlike the novel, why such little time was spent investigating the death of Chase. This film will very likely not win any Best Picture awards, probably not any Best Director awards either, but could possibly win a Best Actress or Actor trophy or Best Original Song for Taylor Swift’s “Carolina.”
Do I recommend this movie? Don’t waste your time and money with this one in theater. If you really want to see it, wait for it to go to Redbox or streaming. Another pretty disappointing film based on a phenominal book. 18+ 3.5/5