Based on the best-selling novel, will critics and audiences be singing the praises of Where The Crawdads Sing’? Or will reviews be Harsh girl for the Marsh Girl?
Performing due diligence for the review, one Googled crawdads to confirm that it was indeed the Southern nickname for crayfish. Not a bird as the title would logically suggest. However it did uncover the shocking fact. Actually the first piece of information to come up under a Google search so not alone in this. Crawdads do NOT sing. They don’t even make a hum or other noise like an insect that could be comparable to “singing”.
So if one cannot even trust the title with the truth, how can we as an audience trust the narrative that is presented?
The discovery of a body with ties to Kya Clark results in her incarceration and subsequent trial for murder. Through discussions with her lawyer Tom Milton (David Strathairn donning a white suit to channel his best Atticus Finch) and the evidence presented at trial, Kya recounts her story as a young girl abused and then abandoned to fend for herself.
With the story told from Kya’s point of view, any scene she does not appear jars in context to the rest of the story.
The “Marsh Girl” as she is un-affectionately known, has spent her whole life living in a house in the marshes. Not that you would know that from looking at her with her luscious hair and flawless skin. Ultimately her spotless complexion hampers David Edgar-Jones (Fresh)’s believability as the toughened heroine. Yes, she is fiercely independent, intelligent and a talented artist and naturalist. However lacking that true grit and dirt under the fingernails that someone who has survived by getting up at the crack of dawn to harvest mussels to make ends meet would have.
A cinematic adaptation of a legal thriller set in the Deep South may evoke memories of something like A Time To Kill. Whilst not as controversial in its subject matter, on-screen at least, there are plenty of White Saviours going about. The lawyer seeking her acquittal, and the two young men in her life. Harris Dickinson is suitably slimy while Taylor John Smith’s character and performance feels cut & paste from a Nicolas Sparks book/movie. Both seeking to “save” her from her life of living in the swamp. One through teaching her to read and encouraging her potential as an author and one who wishes to take her away from the marsh. From one potential cage to another as a wife.
Ultimately however this is Kya’s story. One about her coming to terms with her independence. That she is the master of her own destiny and the trial is about how strongly she fought to preserve it.
The book might have been a phenomenon, however the film lacks “the grits” of the original text. Sadly Where The Crawdads Sing becomes bogged down in courtroom drama tropes to truly sing in its own right.
Where The Crawdads Sing is in cinemas from July 22
Director: Olivia Newman
Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Harris Dickinson, Taylor John Smith, David Strathairn
Runtime: 126 minutes