Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)

Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)

Movie Details

Movie: Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)
Director: Olivia Newman
Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John, and SmithHarris Dickinson
Movie Type: Mystery/Thriller
Release date: 15 July 2022
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
Languages: English, Spanish (Latin America),
Duration: 2h 05m


Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)


Zoologist Delia Owens‘ debut novel became a bestseller and with the attractive theme of a murder mystery set against the background of a coming-of-age story, a film adaptation was on offer. And Hollywood did not step aside again – the professionally managed transfer of the material to the screen managed to earn five times its budget in American cinemas since its premiere in July. The song for the film was composed by Taylor Swift and the project was produced by Reese Witherspoon, which undoubtedly also helped the promotion, moreover, there is no doubt that this summer season some drama with a strong female protagonist was completely missing. However, the accountants’ satisfaction does not necessarily mean that a good movie has been made.

From the very first moments, the literary nature of the film is all too apparent, and viewers may be reminded of similar paper-rustling melodramas such as Hillbilly Elegy, Promise at Dawn, or the older Message in a Bottle and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. That is, above all, fancy romances trying to give the impression of fatalism, but at the same time not telling about anything interesting. And that, unfortunately, is the case with this narrative from the swampy American South.

The story takes place in several timelines. The introduction takes us to the end of the 60s when a popular local flutist dies under strange circumstances. A peculiar girl, Kya, who had an affair with him, is accused of his murder – but above all, an outsider living alone in a house in the middle of the forest has been disturbing the residents of a nearby small town for a long time with her unorthodox lifestyle, so the trial against her seems a bit like revenge on the part of the whole community.

This court line is interspersed with long flashbacks from Kya’s childhood and adolescence. During this time, the whole family left her – the girl’s mother and older siblings gradually left the isolated house of the violent father. The idea that the relatives would leave a little girl there with only an erratic father (and then completely alone) sounds a bit absurd, but there are more similarly strange screenwriting constructs in the film. Some of these illogicalities are probably already part of the literary template, but the movie story seems very contrived, which significantly reduces the viewer’s ability to connect with the protagonist.

Since everything takes place in the 1950s and 1960s, there is no shortage of petty-bourgeois prejudices against ethnic minorities or people on the fringes of society. The community’s dissatisfaction with the fact that its golden child in the form of a handsome American football player could be harmed by an ostracized recluse from the woods is nicely captured. There is also a reflection on how easily a trusting and emotionally very wounded woman succumbs to a charming manipulator who, unlike her, can navigate the field of interpersonal relationships. But it also ends with that offer, because unfortunately, the film is not interested in playing up these interesting topics or focusing on them in more detail.

The main strength of the film is the young British actress Daisy Edgar-Jones, who has already drawn attention to herself in the series Normal People or the dark humor thriller Fresh with Sebastian Stan. Now she has enough space to portray the central Kyu with enough naivety and sensitivity, as befits a constantly abandoned girl. Nevertheless, her task is made easier thanks to the randomly appearing narrator, who explains in the heroine’s voice how the character felt, and thus how we should feel now too.

The environment of southern swamps, forests, and sunsets is undeniably beautifully shot, and the image also suits a more muted color palette reminiscent of the patina of the past. But it ends with that superficial beauty, both in the case of the heroine and the photogenic nature. At the same time, for example, a swamp, as a place where water does not flow, could easily be symbolically presented as a space in which life energy cannot flow freely and naturally. But no one is trying to do that here. The team around director Olivia Newman was content with a mechanically detached retelling of a heart-wrenching story, which, while still entertaining, leaves nothing behind.

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