Movie Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

The Novel ”Where the Crawdads Sing” written by Delia Owens was on the NY Times best seller list for one of the longest periods in history, and has sold 12 million copies. Where the Crawdads Sing is one of the best selling books of all time and took Delia Owens 10 years to write it. Now this very popular book has been made into a major motion picture, with the screenplay written by Lucy Alibar, and a finished product that I thought was a very well made and engrossing movie. And yet, the Rotten Tomatoes critics are giving this very good film a 34% average rating – possibly the most off the mark consensus rating I have ever seen. What are they thinking? What does any filmmaker, director or screenwriter have to do to escape critics who have no idea what they are writing about?

While this movie is very good, there are some flaws with logic, because even in the 1950’s in North Carolina there is no way a girl of 10 years old named Kya Clark, would be allowed to live by herself and never go to school while living in a run down shack within a swamp. The resultant trial that is mixed in with this story, mostly told out of order – is too convoluted and flimsy to expect that any prosecutor would arrest Kya Clark for murder, with the evidence that was presented. However, despite these obvious flaws this movie was very well acted, directed and filmed, with some very good scenes of the back country of North Carolina.

This movie stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya. Her performance is outstanding as she is so believable as a young woman living through the harshness of a life that was thrown at her; through circumstances that included an abusive alcoholic father and an entire family that left her to live alone when she was 10. This story does an outstanding job of showing an extreme lack of empathy in her small town, as all but two shop owners where Kya lives, show the child any concern or care for her welfare. She is ridiculed as “the swamp girl”, walks around in bare feet with no education and only for one day attended school where she was laughed at for not being able to spell the word DOG. Scenes like this remind all of us how cruel children can be towards other children. Much of Kya’s plight of trying to survive on her own and the cruelty of the people within the town she lives can be very hard to watch, especially because of the likability of Daisy Edgar-Jones.

Kya experiences great heartbreak where her first boyfriend Tate, played very well by Taylor John Smith leaves for college, promises to return to her and never does until much later when she is involved with a second boyfriend. Kay’s second boyfriend is a very bad person who abuses her and this leads to the murder trial and the conclusion that I thought was well done and very surprising.

Where the Crawdads sing is one of those rare big movies where there are no well known actors involved, in this case because of the huge draw expected because of the popularity of the book. Once again, the critics are 100% again, with my rating in the 85% range and a solid recommendation.