Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing ★★★½

A solid piece of Southern (semi-gothic) drama. Though nothing to write home about, I found Where the Crawdads Sing to be an easily digestible, often touching character drama. Part murder mystery, part critique of societal values, all focused around a terrific performance from Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya. It’s the first time I’ve seen any of her work, and she’s definitely a talent to keep an eye on.

Olivia Newman’s approach to the unfolding narrative can feel a little scattered. I’ve no idea if the structure is drawn from the source novel, but it can be a little jarring at times as it jumps between flashbacks and the ongoing court case. The narration feels more for the viewer than any one particular character. Still, at all the crucial moments the effect isn’t any less felt. As a muder mystery it’s quite tepid, but as a character study and damning look at prejudice and groupthink, Newman manages to move you in quiet, subtle ways. Small details hint at the humanity lurking beneath the surface of these characters. From powerful lines of dialogue in the script, to the design of Kya's remote marsh hut, and even in David Strathairn’s Atticus Finch suit. There’s a tiny moment early on with Kya's alcoholic abusive father, a thoroughly unlikeable character, that just broke my heart, ever so slightly shifting how you view him. It’s in these small glimpses that the film begins to feel genuine, lived-in, the sort of tale you have no trouble becoming invested in. The fact that the natural landscapes - tranquil swamps and overbearing marshes - all look stunning is merely an added bonus.

Though far from the finest film I’ve caught at cinemas in 2022, Where the Crawdads Sing is definitely one of the more surprisingly gratifying watches. It's even one I'd be curious to revisit, to see if Edgar-Jones' performance reveals even more.

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Euan liked this review