Drama. Romance. Thriller. All rolled into one. That’s exactly what the film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Delia Owens, entitled Where the Crawdads Sing, offers and we here at TIH take the time to review it before its nationwide release here in the Philippines.
Where the Crawdads Sing Review: Overview
We were able to get the chance to check out an advance screening of Where The Crawdads Sing before it hits theaters on September 14, 2022. The film stars Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People, War of the Worlds) alongside Taylor John Smith (Blacklight, Shadow in the Cloud), Harris Dickinson (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, King’s Man), and David Strathairn (Nomadland, Bourne Legacy).
Where the Crawdads Sing revolves around a recluse young woman by the name of Kya who lives alone in the Marshlands of North Carolina. Due to her chosen lifestyle of isolation from the community and town, she has been labeled as the Marsh girl and has been branded as weird, solace, and mysterious. When a popular yet arrogant boy by the name of Chase Andrews (Dickinson) is found dead in the marsh, the fingers of the entire town point to Kya as the main suspect. The film then goes back and forth through a series of flashbacks in order to paint the innocence or guilt of Kya who is now up for a trial with Tom Milton (Strathairn) as her lawyer.
Where the Crawdads Sing Review: Spoiler Warnings
As mentioned Where the Crawdads Sing will still drop officially in the Philippines by next week and in order to provide the best viewing experience, we will keep this review free from spoilers. Our focus will be solely on the overall premise of the film, the thematic visual atmosphere, and its ability to stand in the genres of suspense-thriller and drama.
A Different Way of Presenting Courtroom Dramas
The suspenseful nature of Where the Crawdads Sing is just at the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to what this film actually aims to deliver. The crime and courtroom elements are further highlighted by the dramatic events that precede it which take over for the majority of the film. Where the Crawdads Sing heavily relies on flashbacks to really uncover the truth behind the story. It’s a pretty interesting direction if you think about it as the agony is prolonged in a manner that allows depth to occur. We as viewers get to know the defendant, Kya, in a more personal way from her childhood down to the present day where she faces trial for suspected murder. It becomes all the more relatable and personal as we don’t just follow a suspect to a trial case but we see what has led to her current situation. We follow Kya’s pain, struggles, and the effects that a society that has shunned her has put on her psyche. What is all the more interesting is how we also get to witness a survival type of film in the life of this character as Kya faces each struggle and obstacle in her way as a means to survive.
The film, therefore, presents the facts in an interesting manner. As viewers, we become lawyers and judges. Kya however is able to bring us on a back-and-forth journey of being guilty and innocent. It’s hard to truly keep up, to be honest as the film manages to confuse its viewers in a manner that makes the film intriguing to watch from start to finish. The film, therefore, deals a lot with our own concept of justification and morality. Given the time that we invest with Kya, we too come to terms with how we view what is right or wrong. We ourselves, through Where the Crawdads Sing, hold up in front of a mirror to question our own perceptions of good and evil. This is what the film succeeds in the most as it becomes a very prolific, eye-opening, and literary piece, especially when you take the time to assess and look at every little intricacy in the film which as a whole is very poetic in nature.
The themes of this film tackle a number of issues from discrimination to the ostracisation of an isolated woman which is depicted in numerous ways primarily through deep meaningful symbolism. The utilization of the wildness of the marshlands also comes in as a character in itself which points to the rough and unpredictable nature of the characters and story. As Kya puts it towards the end “I am the marsh” as she truly embodies the need for survival. The film also tackles isolation as a means for the very survival of the character as she has witnessed a pattern of people constantly leaving her but when the time comes for him to choose the same the results in turn vary. It goes back to the need to adapt and therefore themes of the power of choice also surface. There is a How to Kill a Mocking Bird kind of treatment to the film which manages to add to the poetic and literary nature of the story. This is what makes Where the Crawdads Sing all the more valuable and different as we don’t get a film that’s as simple as those before it. It does have some similarities in plot and flow. Nothing is all that original especially when it comes to the dramatic parts. But it is also a film that undeniably has its own identity.
As said in the title the film does have the tendency to feel like a Nicholas Sparks film even if it isn’t from the said author. The way the romance elements bend and turn along the way has that tonality to it. The romantic sequences between Kya and Tate and even Kya and Chase feel like there were taken straight out of Spark’s romance novels. There is a cheesy nature to them that may have enabled the film to suffer slightly but there was also an honest treatment that paved for its success. These romances allowed even more themes such as rape culture, chauvinism, and masochism. There is therefore a darker tone to the film but it also has the tendency to shift and seem a bit confused and inconsistent which is seen even in the visual aspect.
Confused Visual Tone
The biggest pitfall for this film probably boils down to consistency. It has the tendency to feel like two separate films and it’s not because of the story but primarily through the themes and visuals. There is a heaviness and lightness that occurs in both that are understandably done to supposedly create a oneness or complimentary nature. These two extremes however are very visible and therefore there is a lack of a unified theme in terms of visuals. While there are moments that are admittedly stunning to look at as the marshlands are brought to life to a near-perfect level in the visual front there are scenes that lack the same treatment. There are even moments that seem plain and simple and even lazy at times.
The inconsistency, therefore, is visible because of the disparity between the two. There are moments that seem so perfect and are just a showcase of visual stupendousness but there are also moments that get lost along the way. The color grading is also a great example of this as there are moments when the darker tones and natural light shine to their utmost brilliance while others don’t seem to apply the same treatment. Even the scenes that required a better visual treatment were undermined.
Where the Crawdads Sing Review: Final Verdict
As seen in our review, Where the Crawdads Sing has the ability to bridge suspense and drama in a very literary and poetic manner. It manages to integrate a variety of themes and symbolism that make it all the more engaging and interesting to watch from start to finish. Where the Crawdad Sings also has the ability to grab and keep our attention as viewers with the two genres that it sets to deliver. Furthermore, Daisy Edgar-Jones manages to hold up the entire movie on her shoulders and we can’t imagine anyone else playing Kya other than Edgar-Jones.
Hype Meter: 8/10
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