Where the Crawdads Sing – Film Review
by Katie McCann
Director Olivia Newman
Writers – Delia Owens (based upon the novel by), Lucy Alibar (screenplay by)
Stars – Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson
Where the Crawdads Sing is based on the 2018 bestselling novel by Delia Owens. It follows the story of Kya, The Marsh Girl, a suspect of murder and on trial in 1970s North Carolina. The story flashes back and forth between two timelines, the trail itself and Kya’s troubled past where she was abandoned by her family to fend for herself in the harsh marshlands. But instead of struggling Kya has thrived in the marsh. Yet how could such a kind, timid girl commit such a violent crime?
Kya is played by Normal People star Daisy Edgar Jones who brings depth and beauty to the character that is consistently transfixing. There is always so much going on behind her eyes that you could watch her silently for hours, which is ideal for a character that struggles to connect with and trust others as all those she has loved have left her behind. The other beauty in the film comes in the form of the Marsh itself, which is captured in all its glory by cinematographer Polly Morgan.
Aside from this though, Where the Crawdads Sing doesn’t really justify its two-hour long run time. A lot of the complexities and darkness present in Kya’s character are pushed aside in favour of a mushy love story that sits uneasily beside one of the most tepid murder trials I’ve ever seen in a film. To Kill A Mockingbird this is not.
If you are a fan of the book you might feel a little cheated as there are some major plot points missing and the ending is rushed and messy. But if you are coming to it with fresh eyes there is much to enjoy in the Marsh Girls’ story. Perhaps this film could have benefited from a grittier lens but what remains is still a beautiful love letter to nature and all she can offer us if we are willing to take the time to get to know her.