Monday 29 May 2023

Where the Crawdads Sing - 2022 film review

Where the Crawdads Sing is a film based on Delia Owens' book of the same name - a first novel published by an author in her late 60s which became an international bestseller. I haven't read the book, and I've read some reviews which suggest that the film is inferior - but in that case the novel must be exceptional, because I thought the film was very good. 

The setting is an American marshland. Not a locale that I'm familiar with, but I did once go on a boat trip around the marshes of Grand Cayman which reminded me a little of the film's setting, despite being on a smaller scale. It's an evocative background, and makes for very attractive cinematography. 

At the start of the story, a young man's body is discovered by two cops. He has fallen from a fire tower and soon murder is suspected. The victim has been seen around with a local girl known as 'the marsh girl'. When the cops approach her she flees, only to be caught. What is more, she is then put on trial - on evidence that seemed to me rather flimsy, to say the least.

Most of the film takes the form of an extended flashback, with scenes from the trial intercut. We learn the story of Catherine 'Kya' Clark, who was abandoned by both her parents and her brother and grew up on her own in the marshes. A relationship with a young man peters out and she gets involved with the murder victim, a much less appealing character.

It's really quite a straightforward story, but so well directed by Olivia Newman that the film's length didn't bother me. The locale is terrific and so too is the performance of Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya. Astonishingly,  Daisy is English. A glittering future beckons for her.

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