HomeFilm‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ review

‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ review

Delia Owens acclaimed best-selling novel gets its inevitable big screen adaptation, with Olivia Newman directing Lucy Alibar’s adapted screenplay. The end result isn’t quite as good as the book, but still manages to capture the feel of the narrative. The film works well due to its impressive ensemble, led by a very impressive performance by Daisy Edgar-Jones.

She plays Kya (or marsh girl as she’s teased by the locals), a young woman who has known deep tragedy in her life and who lives alone in the marshlands of North Carolina. When a body is discovered and foul play is suspected, Kya’s life is turned upside down as she is put on trial for the murder of Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson), a local boy who seemed to have a secret relationship with Kya. The film follows the trial with flashbacks of Kya’s life and how she came to be where she is.

Daisy Edgar-Jones, fresh from wowing audiences in the BBC’s seminal lockdown success Ordinary People, has now firmly established herself as the next huge British star to take Hollywood by storm. She is fantastic as Kya and is the main reason the film works so well as a thriller. It’s a fantastic leading turn that showcases a maturity in performance far beyond her years.

The chemistry Edgar-Jones has with her co-stars fully captures the audience’s gaze, and keeps you completely invested in the story. Taylor John Smith plays Tate, the kind local kid who grew up near Kya and who genuinely loves her. Their relationship is well crafted and easy to champion with the two actors sharing un unspoken connection that translates well onscreen. Harris Dickinson’s portrayal of Chase Andrews is equally as good, even if the character has some easy-to-see flaws from the outset. Both relationships keep the viewer guessing and that’s a good thing.

The ensemble are all assured too, with screen legend David Strathairn doing very well as a retired lawyer who willingly steps back into the courtroom to defend Kya. Their exchanges, as Kya recalls her past, are the glue that holds the film together, with both bouncing off one another’s performances that captures their dynamic perfectly. Michael Hyatt and Sterling Macer Jr. play Mabel and Jumpin’ (respectively), the kindly local shop owners who take an interest in Kya’s life and are seemingly the only sympathetic characters to her. Again, a good working chemistry with Edgar-Jones makes their exchanges heartfelt and sincere. Special mention should go to Jojo Regina too, who plays the young Kya in the flashback scenes. She carries a lot of the film’s more uncomfortable narrative moments regarding abuse and neglect and handles these themes impressively. She’s a talent to keep an eye out for in the future.

The film is shot beautifully by director Olivia Newman, who clearly has a keen eye for a sweeping romantic shot. The marshlands of Louisiana are used to good effect here, accurately painting the harshness of the location whilst simultaneously showcasing its warm splendour and magical feel. The environment is a very important part to this story and the locales add to the atmospheric feel of this thriller.  

‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is a well-acted and finely crafted thriller, even if a few elements play the predictability card a tad too often. The court case is interesting to see unfold (even if, at times, this all feels completely absurd as to why this even got to trial in the first place), but that’s Hollywood for you. If you leave that logic behind, there’s a decent thriller here to enjoy with a great cast and a ending that packs a punch – even if you can see it coming a mile off.

Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer Jr., Logan Macrae, Bill Kelly, Ahna O’Reilly, Garret Dillahunt, Jojo Regina, Luke David Blumm Director: Olivia Newman Writer: Delia Owens, Lucy Alibar Certificate: 15 Duration: 125 mins Released by: Sony Release date: 22nd July 2022

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Jason Palmer
Jason Palmerhttp://www.entertainment-focus.com
Jason is a film contributor for Entertainment Focus (EF) bringing you the latest news and reviews from the movie world.

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