I’m beginning this review having no clue what I’m going to end up scoring this film or even having a clear idea of what I truly felt about it.
It all begins with the death of a popular young man in the town. Was his death an accident? A murder? Who did it? WHY? That’s what we’re here to find out. The town rumour-mill is quick to accuse the ‘Marsh Girl’, a young woman who has grown up alone in the swamplands of North Carolina and has been ostracized from the wider community. Through her trial and conversations with her lawyer, the story of what really happened and how she came to be known as the ‘Marsh Girl’ is slowly unraveled.
1 – I’ll start with what I know, and see if my thoughts about this film become any clearer for you (or me).First of all, I haven’t read the book. I’ve always meant to read it, but once I knew I was going to review the movie, I intentionally avoided it so that my perspective would be that of someone completely ignorant to the plot. All I can say is that it didn’t feel like a movie that did a book justice. It felt like a movie that certainly tried to incorporate as much of a book as it could, but simply ended up with a lot of unnecessary character narration of things that were literally playing out before your eyes.
2 – I know that the cast were all solid. Daisy Edgar-Jones effectively channeled the social anxiety you’d expect from Kya Clarke, who has lived alone since childhood. She truly looked at home in the marshlands and some of the best moments in the entire film simply consisted of her existing in the wildness of the nature she’d grown up in. Taylor John Smith flawlessly smiles his way onto screen as romantic interest numero uno, Tate Smith. Harris Dickinson is given the slightly more complicated character of romantic interest number two (and dead body number one), Chase Andrews. David Strathairn claimed my heart almost instantly as the kindly old lawyer, Tom Milton, springing out of retirement to help a rejected gal in need.
3 – I also know that I did not get emotionally invested in this movie or any of the relationships it presented me.
4 – It felt like a Nicholas Sparks film but any possible authentic romance vibes were diluted with two all-to-similar romantic interests who both liked to point out how different Kya was all the time and keep her a secret and felt like she was the only one who truly knew them. Blah blah blah.
5 – It felt like a murder mystery, yet without the thrill of evidence discovery or intrigue of characters acting suss (as everything is laid out in a court room – instead of you doing the gasping from shock reveals, the characters in the movie take care of that for you).
6 – It felt like a court room drama, but without any particularly impressive lawyer moments.
7 – It also felt like Days of Our Lives in brief moments (I used to watch it when I was home sick from school, gimme a break).
8 – It covers some REALLY heavy/dark content but still somehow just feels like a pleasant watch.
9 – When asked if it was good I replied “…I think so…”
10 – I still enjoyed the overall movie experience
Reading back over “what I know”…it doesn’t sound good for Where the Crawdad’s Sing. But that’s why I’m so confused. I think I would still tell my friends to watch this movie despite the mish mash of negative and positive thoughts I had about it. I simply can’t put my finger on why I think it’s a worthwhile experience. I know that if I wasn’t trying to keep this review spoiler-free, I could give you several more things about the film that I really loved. Certain aspects of certain characters, the deeper meaning behind it all and the ultimate conclusion to the story of Kya Clarke were thought-provoking and even surprising.
I guess I want you to watch it for the things I can’t tell you about, and I don’t want to tell you about them because discovering them on your own is where the magic of Where the Crawdads Sing lies.
P.S I was probably being generous when I referred to this as a review in the title. It’s more of a jumbled list of thoughts. Sorry about that,