Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)
December 5, 2022 7:15 AM - Subscribe

Abandoned by her family, Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) raises herself all alone in the marshes outside of her small town. When a local man is found dead near her home, Kya is instantly branded by the local townspeople and law enforcement as the prime suspect for his murder.

Also starring Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer Jr., David Strathairn, Garret Dillahunt, Eric Ladin, Ahna O'Reilly, Joe Chrest.

Directed by Olivia Newman. Produced by Reese Witherspoon, Screenplay by Lucy Alibar. Based on the novel by Delia Owens.

34% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Netflix. Also available for digital rental. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (10 comments total)
This isn't bad per se, but it's going to piss a lot of people off, because it's just so sanded down.

Kya isn't an unkempt swamp woman with a strange allure. She's a conventional hot YA lead who was dirty sometimes as a child, but now wears very clean, reasonably cute and normal clothes, even while harvesting mussels. Her house isn't some creepy eyesore that would haunt the town. It's a rickety but appealing little cottage covered with art and shells and whatnot, far out of their line of sight anyway. The marsh isn't a seductive but dangerously wild place. It's postcard beautiful in every shot. The decades of harassment and abuse Kya endures at the heart of the town is condensed into one time kids were assholes to her at school and a bit of name calling. The years of abuse at the hands of her dad becomes a sort of "well, you can guess what happened there" montage.

Most of what they show onscreen is fine and all. It's just that the story sort of calls out for interesting grit, the appeal of dirt between your toes, the charisma of someone with dirt under their nails who doesn't always bother to wear shoes, let alone worry how her hair looks to assholes. It has zero of that.

This is the kind of bland also-ran of a movie that exists to get watched with your folks while inside during the holidays.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:25 AM on December 5, 2022 [6 favorites]

I did not read the book, so I found myself confused in a few parts. First, I had no idea what year it was until half way through. If they mentioned it at the very beginning, I missed it. And did the novel explain why a whole town thought it would be ok to let a child raise themselves while simultaneously being incredibly shitty to said child?

And I agree with everything you mentioned above, DirtyOldTown. I kept thinking, "wow she looks like a Madewell catalog," in every shot.
posted by haplesschild at 11:23 AM on December 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

I watched this film just because I hoped it might edit/improve the book's absolutely batshit concept of North Carolina geography (those vast low country marshes are really more of a SC/Georgia thing, no one in Coastal NC would go to Asheville to run errands. That is a 300-500 mile trip each way, depending on where you are on the coast. And in the "Crawdads" era, the only East-West interstate that crossed the state was still decades from completion. Also all of NC's large cities--and a couple of SC's-- are literally between the Coast and Asheville. But whatever). Tragically it did not.

I like Daisy Edgar Jones. I want her to be in better films.
posted by thivaia at 11:25 AM on December 5, 2022 [5 favorites]

Only ever-so-slightly related, but DOT Jr. and I have developed a thing where the first time characters in a film say the title, we high five. It's a very simple, very silly game that only gets funnier the more you do it. He did not watch this with us and when Jody said "where the crawdads sing..." and I reached to Comrade Doll for a high five, she left me hanging.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:57 PM on December 5, 2022 [12 favorites]

I listened to the book last month and really enjoyed it. I decided to watch the movie and thought it was as bad as the reviews. So bland. In the book, the townspeople refer to marsh people as if there were many of them, and the townspeople didn’t care about them at all. (I did wonder why none of her four siblings came back for her for decades - how far away did they go?). The book wasn’t realistic but her relationship with the marsh was deep and her personality after being abandoned by everyone felt real - and both of those were so glossed over in the movie.
posted by Sukey Says at 2:36 PM on December 5, 2022

Only ever-so-slightly related, but DOT Jr. and I have developed a thing where the first time characters in a film say the title, we high five.

There's a scene in Arrested Development where someone mentions "arrested development" and Ron Howard's narrator voice interjects with, "Hey, that's the name of the show!" My wife and I have made a habit of doing our best Ron Howard impersonation every time a show or movie does this.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 5:57 PM on December 5, 2022 [6 favorites]

I tried to like this. Daisy Edgar Jones does everything she can but none of this makes any sense.

This just felt like someone's made-up version of whatever the era of the South this was (the 1960s? maybe?). I don't really know how an 8-year-old girl (or however old Kya was supposed to be) managed to survive on her own. There were so many instances of fanfic thinking (I love fanfic so no disrespect).

The movie is well made and I think that's actually the problem with it. It feels like it was meant to be a "prestige" movie when really, it should be ridiculous melodrama. This is not reality. It's someone's fantasy of this time period in the South that involves no research. That kind of fantasy can be fun but this movie was not.

(I assumed the book might've been better but I've been told it was not.)
posted by edencosmic at 6:00 PM on December 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

This movie is based on a book that is based on the real life experiences of Delia Owens as someone who murders people in cold blood on video with her husband (not to mention immense levels of racism).
posted by Literaryhero at 10:45 PM on December 5, 2022 [11 favorites]

Saw this because of Daisy Edgar-Jones, after Fresh. It was pretty unwatchable and we ended up FFing to the end then just sighing a lot. Also I feel like the dead guy and the nice friend guy are not nearly fucking differentiated enough by name or appearance lol.

When Kya first went to the store and they had a character named Jumpin' who was talking like that I was like NOOOOO. I hope Sterling Macer Jr got a nice paycheck. I hope everyone got a nice paycheck, except the author, I guess.

It's not quite batshit enough to wtf-watch, like (I hear) Wild Mountain Thyme or Book of Henry? Though maybe with knowledge of the dark cloud following Delia Owen you can watch it to make yourself sick with hatred like some Woody Allen movies.
posted by fleacircus at 5:25 AM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

When Kya first went to the store and they had a character named Jumpin' who was talking like that I was like NOOOOO.

Oh God, did they put that in the movie? I was meh on the book up till that point, but when I saw the eye-dialect I was like oh hell no, and stopped reading. I thought they might have toned down the Stephen Fetchit for a movie, for chrissake.
posted by basalganglia at 5:51 PM on December 8, 2022

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