“Where the Crawdads Sing”
125 minutes | Rated PG-13
Where the Crawdads Sing is a new film based on the 2018 bestseller of the same name by Delia Owens. It’s a murder mystery intertwined with a love story set in a North Carolina swamp in the 1950s and 1960s.
We begin in 1969, two young boys riding bicycles discover a body in the swamp. Police discovered it was local quarterback Chase Andrews. It appears to have fallen from a fire tower at the edge of the marsh, but no tracks or footprints remain at the site. A mysterious young woman who lives alone in the swamp is drawn in as a suspect after fibers found on her body match those found on a hat in her home. A local lawyer, played by David Strathairn, who has always treated her kindly , offers to represent her.
We learn that she is Kia Clarke, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones. The townspeople know little about her and call her “swamp girl”. We then flash back to her early days with her cabin family. Her father is a violent and alcoholic. One day after an argument, her mother leaves. Slowly, over the next few years, her older siblings also left, leaving her alone with her father.
Kya is a smart and resourceful young lady. She learns to keep quiet and avoid her father’s angry outbursts. It softens a little, but one day he leaves too. Over the years, the local shopkeeper and his wife have taken a liking to the girl and help her in whatever way they can. With their encouragement, Kya tries to go to school. Because all the kids make fun of her, she only attends one day.
One day after her father leaves, she takes the boat farther than she has gone before and gets lost. She meets a boy her age named Tate. He takes her back home and the two slowly become friends. He teaches her to read and write and count as she teaches him about the flora and fauna of the swamp. It turns out that she is a talented artist and paints wildlife and the swamp. Tate suggests that she send them to a publisher to be turned into a book and provides her with a list of addresses.
Things are going well until Tate, played by Taylor John Smith, leaves for college. He promises to return to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. Tate fails to keep his promise.
One day she is approached by Chase Andrews, played by Harris Dickinson. Chase is a popular boy in town. He had a crush on Kya and decided to pursue her. They begin a romantic relationship. Shortly after Chase proposes, Kya discovers that he is engaged to another, more “acceptable” girl. She is furious. A fight ensues and he tries to rape her. She manages to fight him off, threatening to kill him if he ever returns. This threat was heard by a local fisherman. Did Kya kill Chase?
“Where the Crawdads Sing” starts off well, the acting is great and the story of figuring out what happened to the victim keeps the audience interested. As the love story unfolds, the film slowly loses the audience’s interest and becomes much more predictable. That’s not to say the movie is bad, it just loses focus a bit in the last half.
The swamp scenery is shot beautifully and everything looks authentic to the time period. What starts as a tight well done murder mystery turns into a typical formulaic love story. It’s a good movie that could have been great if they had focused a little more on the murder case in the later half of the movie.
“Where the Crawdads Sing” is rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content. Should be fine for teens and up. I rate it three and a half out of five shell necklaces.