Where the Crawdads Sing | Movie Threat

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I will admit it. The only reason I saw Olivia Newman Where the Crawdads sing because I’m a film critic, and that’s my job. I reluctantly dragged myself to my local theater, sat in an all-female audience, and looked at my watch…counting the minutes. That said, I really liked this movie.

Based on the novel by Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads sing is the story of Kya Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a young girl who lived with her family in a small house built on the Carolina swamps. Kya grew up in a violent family. Her father (Garret Dillahunt) was an angry alcoholic, and his violent temper drove her mother and siblings to run away, leaving Kya to fend for herself. When the pressure of being alone was too much, Kya’s father also abandoned her – just a young girl living alone in the swamp.

Shunned by the whole town, Kya’s only friends are said to be a black couple, owners of the local general store, Jumpin’ (Sterling Macer, Jr.) and Mabel (Michael Hyatt). They would protect her from social services and help Kya learn basic survival skills…starting with gardening. There was also Tate (Taylor John Smith), a boy around Kya’s age, who reportedly took a liking to her during their teenage years. Tate would teach Kya how to read and write and inspire her to turn her talent for drawing into a money-making skill. The two would become a couple until Tate’s acceptance into college and an empty promise to return between semesters.

Kya’s story is also written between a courtroom thriller. A popular young man, Chase (Harris Dickinson), has been found dead at the foot of an observation tower. Chase fell to his death from the top of the tower, and there is no evidence of foul play, but the police decide that Chase was murdered by the swamp madwoman, Kya.

Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) in Columbia Pictures’ WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING.

“…the police decide that Chase was murdered by the swamp madwomanKya.

Kya was framed for murder and Tom Milton (David Strathairn) was the only lawyer willing to take her case for free. However, it is soon discovered that Kya had a relationship with Chase, and the circumstantial evidence all points to Kya.

Where the Crawdads sing is the story of the misunderstood and outsiders in life. I guess what makes this story work is the theme of survival. The only advice Kya received from her father was to learn how to be a survivor, and surviving is the main theme of the film. Kya took matters into her own hands and survived her childhood on her own, without government assistance or community support. She learns how to grow vegetables, hunt mussels for money, and keep them out of public view. She survives being abandoned by everyone she loves from her mothers, siblings, father and Tate. She also survives Chase’s violent advances.

In her efforts to survive, Kya becomes a recluse. Finally, she finds her alone living safely in the swamp and avoiding everyone, as everyone she knows eventually leaves her. Now considered the “swamp girl”, Kya finds her life and freedom at the mercy of her “peers”, who have judged and bullied her all her life. It is at this moment that she finally decides to defend herself.

Daisy Edgar-Jones is the star here and gives an incredibly endearing performance. Kya is vulnerable in the beginning and finds strength in the end. We support her from her childhood abuse to the final verdict of the murder trial. The supporting roles are good but very average. With the exception of Dillihunt and Strathairn, Edgar-Jones acts ring around the cast.

As good as the movie is, I’m not exactly its target audience. But solid storytelling prevailed, and while you might not be its target audience either, Where the Crawdads sing worth taking the risk. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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