Film ratings

Movie reviews: Daisy Edgar-Jones emerges from the swamps of 1969 North Carolina accused of a heinous crime

I don’t know if freshwater crayfish — or crawfish as they’re sometimes called in communities surrounding Appalachia — sing in real life, as the lyrical title of Delia Owens’ international bestseller suggests.

Meowing shellfish are surely the prerogative of Disney animations.

However, I know director Olivia Newman’s slow-burn film adaptation is off key for long stretches of its languid two-hour runtime despite a solid central performance from Daisy Edgar-Jones and ravishing cinematography courtesy by Polly Morgan.

Strung with timely issues of domestic violence and female empowerment, Where The Crawdads Sing struggles to generate momentum or dramatic suspense as a badly abused protagonist stands trial for murder in a North Carolina courthouse. which regularly distributes death sentences.

The stakes should be high, but our cuticles are never threatened by Lucy Alibar’s script, which quietly swings between the events of 1953 and 1969 to set cycles of violence and shame in an untamable place where every creature does what it must to survive.

Normal People star Edgar-Jones masters a South American accent as she imbues her social outcast with steely determination, she refuses to beg for her life, while exposing rifts of vulnerability in her emotional armor.

“Sometimes I feel so invisible, I wonder if I’m there,” she confides in a trembling tone to a friend, who tenderly assures her that she is seen.

Its richly textured depiction of autonomy under duress goes beyond the modest scope of Alibar’s pedestrian screen adaptation, which crams trial verdict, watery-eyed pronouncements and an obvious blatant twist into a final act. precipitate.

Catherine “Kya” Clark (Edgar-Jones) learns to fend for herself from the age of six in a dilapidated house in a swamp where her father (Garret Dillahunt) regularly beats her mother (Ahna O’Reilly) until as the battered matriarch leaves, followed by Kya’s older siblings.

Cruelly ostracized by the residents of the nearby coastal town of Barkley Cove, Kya sells bags of hand-harvested mussels to shopkeeper Jumpin (Sterling Macer Jr) and his wife Mabel (Michael Hyatt) to put food in his belly.

She also channels an enduring fascination with wildlife into writing and book illustration.

A touching romance with nice boy Tate Walker (Taylor John Smith) ends when he heads off to college, then Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson) woos her in direct opposition to his mother (Jerri Tubbs).

When Chase is found dead at the base of a rusty watchtower, Kya is singled out and attorney Tom Milton (David Strathairn) agrees to mount a solid defense.

Where The Crawdads Sing evokes a time of stifling traditional gender roles, when the concept of racial equality was still fresh on the lips of certain sections of American society.

Outside of Kya, the townspeople, including Tate and Chase, are drawn in to serve its overarching plot, but don’t jump off the screen as fully formed, morally complex characters.

A heartfelt new song written and performed by Taylor Swift over the end credits is the film‘s real touch of swooning originality.

5/10

OUR LADY ON FIRE (12A)

On April 15, 2019, the Notre-Dame de Paris Catholic cathedral on the banks of the Seine caught fire during restoration work.

The medieval building suffered catastrophic damage, prompting the government to put in place a plan to restore the tourist attraction to its original design in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics, which will take place in the French capital.

Acclaimed filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud directs an incendiary action thriller that brings the events of April 2019 to life through the eyes of the men and women who risked their lives to save the Parisian cathedral.

Using archival footage and never-before-seen footage as a model, Notre Dame On Fire recreates firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze on huge reconstructed sets in stunning replicas.

The film highlights the struggle to quickly navigate personnel and equipment through rush-hour Parisian traffic and juxtaposes heroic deeds inside the cathedral with events in the surrounding streets over the course of 24 hours. ending at sunrise on April 16.

7/10

KURT VONNEGUT: TAKEN OFF IN TIME (15)

Indianapolis-born author Kurt Vonnegut shook up mainstream culture with the publication of his acclaimed 1969 anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.

In 1988, the young filmmaker Robert Weide wrote a letter to Vonnegut, offering an intimate documentary on the writer’s life.

Over the years, the director and his literary idol have formed a close bond that has extended beyond their decades-planned feature film.

Co-directed by Don Argott, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time paints a rich and vibrant portrait of the novelist and philosopher from childhood to his experiences during World War II, marriage, divorce and a meteoric rise in literary circles.

Boasting a wealth of previously unseen footage, the documentary celebrates Vonnegut and Weide’s friendship and the impact of the writer’s legacy.

6/10

SHE GOES (15)

The Scottish Highlands provide a gripping backdrop to a psychological thriller directed by award-winning filmmaker and artist Charlotte Colbert.

Produced by Italian horror maestro Dario Argento, She Will centers on aging movie star Veronica Ghent (Alice Krige), who faces an unseemly trial by the tabloids after a double mastectomy.

Wrapped in bandages, Veronica chooses to escape media speculation about her post-surgery condition by attending a rural retreat with her long-suffering Desi nurse (Kota Eberhardt).

Unfortunately, any thought of quiet recuperation is banished when Veronica and Desi discover their cabin is located on land where artist Tirador (Rupert Everett) hosts group activities for like-minded aesthetes.

Nasty brown slimes repeatedly seep into Veronica’s sanctuary, and she’s haunted by memories of one of her earliest screen roles, playing for director Eric Hathbourne (Malcolm McDowell) at the age of 13 years.

6/10