Where the Crawdads Sing

  • 30 Jul - 05 Aug, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Daisy Edgar-Jones was a lockdown smash for her excellent performance in the BBC’s Sally Rooney adaptation Normal People, and she deserved better for her Hollywood debut than this uncompromisingly terrible southern gothic schmaltzer based on the humungous US bestseller by Delia Owens. It’s a relentless surge of solemnly ridiculous nonsense in the style of rom-dram maestro Nicholas Sparks culminating in a courtroom trial with Edgar-Jones’s free-spirited heroine in the dock as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murder Suspect. Defending her is David Strathairn as the white-suited decent liberal lawyer and it is at this stage that this film plays like an all-white reboot of To Kill a Mockingbird with Edgar-Jones somehow getting to play Scout and Tom Robinson at the same time. And the big twist ending is an outrageously evasive cheat.

Edgar-Jones plays Kya, a young woman who has basically raised herself in a remote shack. She’s had to learn to survive when her drunken and violent Pa (Garret Dillahunt) drove Kya’s mother away after years of domestic abuse; her siblings fled and Pa finally keeled over. So, as a teenager Kya is basically on her own, making a living by selling freshwater mussels to the local store, roaming wild and free on the wetlands in her outboard motorboat and drawing pictures of the local flora and fauna with her amazing untrained artistic talent.

Kya is subject to much paranoid misogynistic abuse from the local townsfolk, who are also racist to her only allies: the black store-owners played by Sterling Macer Jr and Michael Hyatt. But two very similar-looking local blond hunks fall in love with Kya. One is a decent young fellow called Tate (Taylor John Smith) who is just about to go away to study at Chapel Hill. The other guy is boorish high school quarterback Chase (Harris Dickinson), whose dead body is found in the marsh, just underneath the fire tower. Kya is arrested for his murder. She pleads not guilty. So, was Chase’s death an accident? Or did someone else kill him?

And so the drama drones on and on and on, leaving us to wonder when are we going to get the crucial flashback? The scene when the film shows us, on screen, moment-by-moment, what actually happened, and what responsibility the participants actually have. Well, suffice it to say that what we get is a hilarious and ridiculous cop-out.

– Compilation