Jacob’s review published on Letterboxd:
Where the Crawdads Sing is framed with a trial that contains rather little rather intrigue, even for the film’s own protagonist who stands accused. Despite the horrific accusations made against her, she seems rather unaffected, only slightly tense at worse. Perhaps her peace comes from knowing her own truth so deeply and a faith in God’s protection, but certainly knowing that you could very likely be given the death sentence of a life in prison would create more stress than it does here. The trial feels like a ghost of the source material that the filmmakers have no vested interest. More than anything, this film is a romance in the vein of the Nicholas Sparks adaptations from the last decade. The swampy Southern mystery this hints at being is treated as a burden.
I’ll likely never read the novel this was adapted from, but I am curious as to why it was adapted despite having seemingly no distinctive qualities from other works in the genre. Was the writing style particularly compelling? Were the characters more dynamic? Was the mystery actually presented as s compelling one to be solved? As it is in the film, it’s all rather stiff. No performer stands out as a weak point, but it also feels that no performer is being asked of much. There’s a lack of surprise throughout, with no emotional beat feeling revelatory or affecting. Flattering cinematography makes good use of the setting in a way that the story itself fails to do. Both in its romance and its mystery, Crawdads is too light to make an impact.