Where The Crawdads Sing – Movie Review

I’ve written a lot of film reviews in my time and many of my favourite films have been based upon rather successful novels, none of which I have ever read. I just find that films based on books often are that little bit more deeper and thoughtful than the average film and such is the case with the film I saw on Thursday 22nd July, Where The Crawdads Sing.

I had no reason to watch it, I’d not even seen an advertising feature for it and hadn’t even heard of the title until last night. Every review I read about it my professional film-reviews totally trashed the film. I went to see it based solely on the title and the fact that I know what I like and that often is not what film-reviewers seem to think audiences should like.

Based on a hit 2018 novel of the same name, the intro sequence brings us over some beautiful landscapes as a voice-over tells us “A swamp knows all about death, and doesn’t necessarily define it as tragedy, certainly not a sin,” and with that I knew I had made the right choice.

Its protagonist, Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones), is steadfastly presented as someone whose tether to her marshland home, in South Carolina, is the very essence of unblemished authenticity. When the body of a local man, Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson), is discovered out in the wilderness, everyone assumes that Kya, the reclusive “Marsh Girl” who’s been systematically abandoned by her family and everyone she ever loved, must be responsible. She’s arrested and immediately thrown in jail.

Kya and Chase had recently had some sort of thing going on, a distraction from the toils of her star-crossed, fairytale romance with childhood sweetheart and earnestly pleasant Tate (Taylor John Smith).

The film goes back and forth as we see Kya grow up in a frankly horrendous childhood with nature, solitude and her love of drawing and her marshes as her only companions as from time to time we see how her hearing in court with its worrying potential Death Penalty on the cards as again we shift back to her life as a teenager and then a young adult who is completely shunned by the local townspeople. If it weren’t for Tate, Kay wouldn’t even be able to read. With her past experiences it is no wonder she preferred nature over people but when these same people are sitting in judgement on a murder charge then it doesn’t offer much hope.

I must say, I enjoyed the film tremendously although I found it a little slow in parts, that being said I truly appreciated the time it took to tell the story properly. I never once seriously thought Kya might have killed Chase and the fact you only find out exactly what happened, seconds before the end of the film was very satisfying.

Tate, belatedly teaching Kya to read and write as an adult.

I felt a lot in common with the main character as someone largely on their own and in my own way, Excluded from society. We both like nature, writing our books, don’t really have time for non-genuine people, both collect feathers and one way or the other are almost entirely on our own.

The scenery was magnificent, I do like ‘Southern’ based films if only for the landscapes and cinematography and I hugely empathised with Kya. I love some of the surely literary lines such as “being completely alone was a feeling so vast it echoed” and there are sufficient ups and downs to keep the story interesting.

I found there were echoes of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and I enjoyed David Strathairn in his legal role defending Kya, often with little help from the defendant. I also had no idea that the main character was play by an English actress in the shape of Daisy Edgar-Jones.

Where The Crawdads Sing might not be the best film of 2022 but it is one that has nourished my soul. The journey is sad and beautiful and with a conclusion that rewards the time invested and might bring a few tears to the eye.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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2 Responses to Where The Crawdads Sing – Movie Review

  1. Hm. I might need to see the film. I read the book and though the nature writing in it is beautiful, I was underwhelmed with the murder plot, which seemed like it could have been lifted out entirely and the book may have been better for it. Sounds like maybe the movie does a better job of integrating it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can see why that might have been a problem in the book. I wouldn’t say it was the most obvious tale I was expecting from the film either. I went for the natural aspect of it and a generic mystery which I knew nothing about and really enjoyed it. I had 99% of the film all mapped out in my head but ruled out the eventual ‘reveal’ at the end so I was happily surprised.

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