On October 30th 1969, two boys discover a dead body in the marshlands of North Carolina. The body belongs to local man, Chase Andrews, who appears to have fallen victim to an accident.
However, there are suggestions that Andrews was murdered, leading to the arrest of Catherine ‘Kya’ Danielle Clark – a young woman who was once romantically involved with Andrews. As chief suspect in a potential murder case, ‘Kya’ is then taken into custody and held in a cell, pending a trial.
After meeting with her lawyer to discuss the case, Kya begins to recount her life story, explaining her difficult childhood during the 1950s, as well as her connection to Andrews. Meanwhile, back in 1969, a trial gets under way, to determine whether Kya is a murderer.
Directed by Olivia Newman, Where the Crawdads Sing is a mystery-drama starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, and Michael Hyatt. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Lucy Alibar, and is a period piece which straddles both the 1950s and the 1960s.
The majority of the story is told in flashback, with a specific focus on Kya’s life. These flashbacks essentially explore who she is, what hardships she has faced, and the life she has made for herself along the way.
Every once in a while, the flashbacks subside and the movie flips back to courtroom scenes, set in 1969. These sequences frame the mystery element of the story, stringing out the question at the heart of this film: Did Kya kill Chase Andrews?
Of course, I won’t tell you the answer to that question, but what I will tell you is the answer does come (eventually). However, this film is concerned with more than just a simple answer to a simple question, it is far more interested in detailing Kya’s history.
As such, those who find themselves connecting with Kya and who want to know her backstory, will no doubt get more out of this movie than those who don’t. If your only interest is a mystery, then you may come away disappointed.
For the record, I wasn’t disappointed. While watching Where the Crawdads Sing I found myself transfixed by the story, and thoroughly engaged from start to finish.
There are a number of elements which work for this movie, beginning with the casting of Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya. Edgar-Jones proves to be a captivating screen presence, and someone you want to champion.
Throughout the movie, Kya is subjected to a number of hardships and traumatic events, and yet she takes them all in her stride. This is conveyed effortlessly by Edgar-Jones, who manages to perfectly embody her character.
She is then helped by a picturesque setting, some beautiful cinematography, and a faithful depiction of the past. All of this is brought together by good direction, which demonstrates that director Olivia Newman is keen to deliver the best adaptation of the original novel that she can.
If I have a grumble with the movie, it is to do with the tone, which feels a little off in places. Sometimes the movie seems to delve into dark areas, with domestic violence and attempted rape being prime examples of the more adult content, while at other times there is a more whimsical, romantic edge to the film, with Kya living off the land and enjoying nature.
This change in tone does create a slightly uneven balance, but I don’t believe it is too problematic. However, I do want to flag it up as it is noticeable.
But Where the Crawdads Sing is a good drama, which sets out its story well, provides a beginning, a middle, and an end, and ultimately works as a solid piece of entertainment. If you like movies that favour character development and storytelling over action and adventure, then this could be for you.
Should you be intrigued by Where the Crawdads Sing and wish to check it out for yourself, the movie was released theatrically in July, but is still playing in select UK cinemas. Where the Crawdads Sing will be heading to digital video-on-demand platforms this month, and the DVD release will follow in late October.