‘Where The Crawdads Sing’ Movie Review: A Beautiful Adaptation of the Book

If you’re a book nerd, then it’s highly likely you’re already familiar with Where the Crawdads Sing. The best selling book by Delia Owens officially hit the big screen on July 15th. And with the film’s release, also came an enchanting take on the captivating mystery and love story that this tale tells.

Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of Kya, an abandoned girl who raised herself to adulthood in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community.

Drawn to two young men from town, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world; but when one of them is found dead, she is immediately cast by the community as the main suspect. As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what actually happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal the many secrets that lay within the marsh.

Where the Crawdads Sing Movie Trailer

Where the Crawdads Sing Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

Having listened to the audio book several weeks ahead of the film screening attended, I went in to this movie with expectations not just of the story itself but also expectations I had built around the personalities of each character. While there are some notable differences between the book and the film, none of them upset me. 

Capturing everything from the book would have made the film nearly twelve hours (like the audio book). Whereas the film’s 2 hour and 5 minute run time truly does a beautiful job at capturing the book’s heart while condensing the story where necessary.

Where the Crawdads Sing Tate and Kya

Script/Adaptation

It’s never easy work when you’re bringing a beloved book to the big screen. Not only do you have to make a movie that audiences will love, but also one that book fans will celebrate.

At the core of this story, is an overlooked girl who truly blooms from her experiences as she grows up – even though her heart stays closed off (at least initially) due to all the cruelty she’s experienced. When she does find love, she softens in a way that not only feels real, but also does the character justice. The empowering message from the book is still very much present in the film, and I have to applaud the screenwriters for capturing that magic.

The Acting

While the entire cast delivered solid performances, this film places all its bet on the talent of Daisy Edgar-Jones, who plays Kya. I can’t imagine a more perfect actress for the role. She captured the spirit, personality, and presence of Kya with such ease that’s it’s easy to get lost in her performance. She is Kya. 

It’s easy to say that a “marsh girl” probably wouldn’t have beautiful hair and skin or shower as regularly as Kya seems to do… and I’ll waive a white flag in defending the movie on these points. But Edgar-Jones is absolutely stunning in this role. And, the overall message of finding beauty in nature, and beauty in whatever other people write-off, is still very much present.

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing Movie Review: Overall Thoughts

I recognize that I’m one of few critics truly raving about this film. And the reason I am is because I have read the book (er… listened to the book). Stick with me for a minute, because I’m about to go on a rant.

The film critics that are reviewing this title purely based on the film alone don’t have the full context. Not to mention, the majority of those reviewing it are male. In 2020, 83% of all film critics were male. 70% of staff writers, 58% of editors, and 58% of people with their own sites talking about the film – all male. Now, if you’ve read the book, I don’t have to tell you that the male audience isn’t the target audience for this film.

So, keep this in mind when you see the less than desirable Rotten Tomatoes score on this one. The majority of people reviewing it don’t understand the magic that lies within this story. For me, I think the film does a beautiful job of honoring the book. And yes, there are changes between the book and what you see on screen. But, that can be said for any book. The changes here aren’t drastic. The story didn’t change. The story got condensed but not in a way that was overly apparent. 

Overall, I think Where the Crawdads Sing is a haunting and empowering tale. It’s a mystery with a side of The Notebook. It’s a story about survival and taking control of one’s situation mixed in with hope and love. And while it’s not perfect, it’s about as close to perfect as a book adaptation can get. 

Where the Crawdads Sing Movie Review: 

Grade: B+

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