Film ratings

A faithful adaptation of the best-selling Mammoth

PG-13 | 2h 5min | Drama, Crime, Thriller | July 15, 2022 (US)

A movie we might expect to see released in late fall, “Where the Crawdads Sing” [WTCS] is still down in mid-summer where superheroes, animation and action fare dominate multiplexes.

However, if the larger-than-expected audience at this movie’s pre-release screening is any indicator, there’s a whole bunch of people out there looking for something more cerebral and lacking in special effects, lawsuit and family. bathroom humor.

Taylor John Smith as Tate Walker and Daisy Edgar-Jones as Catherine “Kya” Clark in “Where the Crawdads Sing.” (Pictures Colombia)

Reminiscent in various places of elements from “Sling Blade”, “Winter’s Bone”, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the selected works of William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Flannery O’Connor, “WTCS” is the very definition of the classic style of the South. Gothic.

Based on the novel of the same name by Delia Owens (which spent a staggering 150 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list), the screenplay was written by Floridian Lucy Alibar who co-wrote the underrated criminal (and similar in tone) “Beasts of the Wild South.”

Epoch Times Photo
Daisy Edgar-Jones as Catherine “Kya” Clark in “Where the Crawdads Sing”. (Pictures Colombia)

The Swamp Girl

Filmed entirely in Louisiana, “WTCS” is set in the fictional enclave of Barkley Cove in North Carolina and opens in 1969 with two young boys discovering a corpse at the base of a fire watchtower. The deceased is Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson), the local spoiled rich kid and high school football hero who recently broke up with Catherine “Kya” Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones in Breakout Performance), aka the “Marsh Girl “.

Epoch Times Photo
Harris Dickinson as Chase Andrews in “Where the Crawdads Sing”. (Pictures Colombia)

Due to her status as a mysterious outlier and a missing piece of jewelry that Chase was wearing the night she died, the Sheriff apprehends Kya and she is charged with first degree murder. In prison, she is visited by the avuncular Tom Milton (David Strathairn), a retired defense attorney cut directly from the fabric of Atticus Finch. She slowly opens up to him and gives details of her nightmarish childhood.

Kya got her insulting and dubious nickname from the pretentious townspeople because she lives in a tin-roofed hovel by the water. She was first abandoned by her battered mother and soon after, her older siblings due to the relentless abuse of their unstable alcoholic father Pa (Garret Dillahunt). Preteen Kya (Jojo Regina) is largely able to avoid Pa who ends up breaking up, leaving her to fend for herself, which she does surprisingly well.

Kya’s only allies for the next 15+ years are a married couple (Michael Hyatt and Sterling Mercer, Jr.), the owners of a small grocery store, and Tate Walker (Taylor John Smith), her loving childhood friend who teaches him to read and write. This eventually leads to a romance between the two that doesn’t go in the direction Kya had hoped.

Mainly because of Chase’s loneliness and lingering, deceptive, alter-ego charm and promises of an idyllic future marriage, the bouncy Kya succumbs to his advances. Soon recognizing that Chase is a pathological liar and just another version of her father, she ends the relationship and it is not well received from him.

Risky storytelling techniques

Presenting any film with an out-of-sequence narrative is always a dicey proposition, and Alibar and second film director Olivia Newman’s decision to add flashbacks and voice-over narration only increases the odds. of failure.

Amazingly, not only do the filmmakers (including co-producer Reese Witherspoon) avoid disaster, they keep audiences on the edge of their seats until the film’s final minutes.

Epoch Times Photo
Daisy Edgar-Jones as Catherine “Kya” Clark and David Strathairn as attorney Tom Milton in “Where the Crawdads Sing.” (Pictures Colombia)

Although it has nothing in common in terms of content with “Pulp Fiction” and “Memento”, “WTCS”, follows a similar labyrinthine path which was perfect for the material. Also, if any of these films had been presented in chronological order, nothing would have worked.

Credit should also be given to cinematographer Polly Morgan (“A Quiet Place Part II,” the upcoming “The Woman King”) and Oscar-winning veteran composer Mychael Danna (“Life of Pi”), each at the top of their game. adding subtle yet substantial texture and depth. Although it’s far too early in the year to predict firmly, there’s a good chance everyone will be Oscar contenders next February.

Don’t be surprised if Taylor Swift’s haunting closing theme song (“Carolina”) receives just as much attention at the end of the year for industry awards season.

In the interest of full disclosure

For those of you among the 12 million people who have purchased the novel, I can’t guarantee you’ll like or even like the movie version, but I can assure you of one thing: it’s very faithful as you go. extent of film adaptations. If you haven’t read the book (like me), don’t go to Wikipedia.com for plot details until you’ve watched the movie; this will totally ruin everything.

On the way home with a (female) friend after watching the movie, we debated (in a good way) the finer points and plot twists of the story and each of us came to different conclusions, well that not radically opposed, and even better, we were able to agree that neither of us was wrong. That’s the best compliment I can give to any film; especially in a legal thriller where the outcome is not open.

Epoch Times Photo
Daisy Edgar-Jones as Catherine “Kya” Clark in “Where the Crawdads Sing”. (Pictures Colombia)

A piece of sneaky thinking

“WTCS” does not preach, dictate or feed the public any particular position or provide commentary regarding law or morality. It makes you think, draw your own conclusions, and puts you in the body, mind, heart, and soul of a character that most of us couldn’t imagine we were, let alone temporarily inhabit.

Whichever side of the argument you end up landing on (and you may never reach that point), it will make you more sensitive to the human condition and aware of those in different boats than you ever would have. could imagine.

“Where the Crawdads Sing”
Director: Olivia Newman
With: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn
Duration: 2 hours, 5 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release date: July 15, 2022
Rating: 4.5 out of 5