A review of the new film “Where The Crawdads Sing”

The word crawdad is a regional term for crayfish. Of course, they cannot sing, but the strange title of this film is an expression meaning an isolated or safe place. The central character of the story, Kya Clark, needs such a space, initially because of child abuse and then because of community hostility (locals call her “the Marsh Girl”). The film is an adaptation of a hugely successful novel by the zoologist Delia Owens and, at the time of the film’s release, the book had sold an amazing 15 million copies.

Many critics have not been kind to this film version of the story but I really enjoyed it. I found the abandoned character of Kya and the remote location of the marshlands original elements in a moving story informed by a knowledge of and affinity for wildlife and fauna. Although the tale is set in North Carolina, the film was shot in Louisiana and the cinematography is gorgeous.

The role of Kya is one that I’m sure many young American actresses would have loved to take on board, but the casting went to a British newcomer Daisy Edgar-Jones (best known previously for the television series “Normal People”) who gives a fine performance and is set for a distinguished career. David Strathairn is well cast as Kya’s defence lawyer but other roles are less well delineated. You need to look and listen carefully at the end to appreciate the full relevance of the comparison between nature and humanity but I found the conclusion quietly satisfying.


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