Please assign a menu to the primary menu location under menu


‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ not as good as the book


This image released by Sony Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Where the Crawdads Sing." (Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures via AP)
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from “Where the Crawdads Sing.” (Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures via AP)



Rated PG-13. At AMC Boston Common, Regal Fenway, AMC South Bay and suburban theaters.

Grade C+

Based upon the 2018 bestseller by author and zoologist Delia Owens, “Where the Crawdads Sing”  is a North Carolina-set mystery-romance that tells the coming-of-age story of loner and “marsh girl” Kya Clark (London-born Daisy Edgar-Jones), who raises herself after her abusive father (Garret Dillahunt) abandons her as a child. We also are told the “To Kill a Mockingbird”-like story of an investigation into the murder of Chase Andrews (Brit Harris Dickinson), a young local man whose body is found at the base of a fire tower in the marsh near Kya’s home. Kya is accused of killing Chase, who was her former, abusive lover.

At the center of both 1960s-era stories is Catherine Danielle Clark aka Kya, a wild thing who cannot even read or write until the hunky Tate Walker (Taylor John Smith, “The Outpost”), the college-bound son of a shrimper (Don Stallings), takes an interest in her, befriends her and becomes her tutor. As a child, Kya learns to earn money for food by digging mussels and selling them to Jumpin’ (Sterling Macer Jr.), the proprietor of a Black market in the marsh. Jumpin’s Bible-quoting wife Mabel (Brit Michael Hyatt) becomes a surrogate mother to Kya (played as a child by Jojo Regina), who rather incredibly lives by herself in a shack-like home in the marsh without so much as a bow and arrow.

Kya, who only attends school for one day because of how she is cruelly treated by classmates, is “reviled” and “shunned” by the residents of the marsh-adjacent town of Barkley Cove with few exceptions because she is poor and “different.” One of the exceptions is the lawyer Tom Milton (David Strathairn). Kya has a talent for drawing and painting, has an intense interest in the creatures of the marsh and is encouraged by Tate to send her work to publishing houses. In court, Kya and Milton, her defense attorney, must persuade the deeply prejudiced members of the jury and the hateful members of the Barkley Cove public in the courtroom that Kya is innocent of the murder of Chase.

Produced by Louisiana-born Reese Witherspoon and boasting the single “Carolina” by Taylor Swift, “Where the Crawdads Sing” is a weak, YA, nature-girl version of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It features a courtroom drama with Strathairn in a white cotton suit as a first cousin of Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch. Kya is a combination of Lee’s Tom Robinson and her heroine Scout aka Jean Louise Finch.

The older actors in the cast fare better than the younger ones. In the lead role, dentally perfect Edgar-Jones is likable, but not much more. Strathairn’s modestly devastating courtroom manner is amusing. TV director Olivia Newman (“Chicago P.D.” ) and screenwriter Lucy Alibar (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) do not make enough use of the otherwise idealized marsh setting (the film was shot in Louisiana). In Frenchman Jean Renoir’s 1941 American film “Swamp Water,” the Okefenokee Swamp is one of the film’s main characters and memorably frightening and eerie. In “Crawdads,” we see exactly one ’gator and no snakes or crawdads for that matter.

(“Where the Crawdads Sing” contains violence and sexually suggestive scenes.)


Source link