For a movie that takes such nice pains to immerse viewers within the atmosphere of 1 particular nook of the USA, The place the Crawdads Sing is shockingly bland. Tailored from Delia Owens’ best-selling 2018 novel, the brand new movie explores the lifetime of a younger girl who’s compelled to lift herself in a marsh in North Carolina. The movie, which takes place all through the Fifties and Sixties, spends a substantial period of time discussing and showcasing the murky wetland that emerges as its protagonist’s unlikely house.
Nevertheless, The place the Crawdads Sing by no means actually takes benefit of its backwoods setting. Even when a surprising homicide within the movie’s central marsh threatens to show the lifetime of its younger heroine the wrong way up, The place the Crawdads Sing stays surprisingly unimaginative, and its refusal to decide to the darker gothic components of its story renders the movie lifeless. Consequently, what may have been a moody and immersive homicide thriller as a substitute finally ends up feeling extra like a secure cross between a late-era Nicholas Sparks adaptation and an uninspired, psychologically skinny character research.
A suspicious dying
The place the Crawdads Sing follows Catherine “Kya” Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones from the Hulu collection Regular Folks), a younger girl who’s positioned below arrest for the suspected homicide of Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson) within the movie’s opening prologue. After a kind-hearted lawyer (David Strathairn) subsequently presents to signify her, Kya shortly finds herself in the midst of a trial that has the ability to find out her complete future. From that time on, The place the Crawdads Sing adopts a multi-timeline construction, one that enables it to discover Kya’s life main as much as her arrest whereas continuously reducing again to the occasions of her present-day trial.
By means of the movie’s prolonged flashback sequences, we’re given glimpses into Kya’s troublesome childhood and the years she spent residing below the thumb of her abusive father (Garret Dillahunt). After her father unexpectedly abandons her, the movie follows Kya as she is compelled to discover ways to survive on her personal within the unforgiving marsh she calls house. The place the Crawdads Sing then picks up with Kya years later when she begins to draw the eye of not solely a good-looking younger man named Tate Walker (Taylor John Smith) but in addition Harris Dickinson’s Chase Andrews, the very man whose dying will ship her present-day life spiraling into chaos.
Between its central homicide, distinctive marshland setting, and doubtlessly tense courtroom subplot, The place the Crawdads Sing has all the required components to be an involving, psychologically darkish homicide thriller. Nevertheless, the movie itself is oddly lighter, each visually and tonally, than its premise would have you ever consider. Its method to violence finally ends up feeling significantly missing, with director Olivia Newman keen to depict the assorted horrific acts which might be perpetrated in opposition to Kya by the boys round her however not the payback that she is justifiably keen to unleash when the necessity arises.
A troublesome life
The movie’s unusual perspective towards its violence is simply made extra obvious by its reluctance to actually lean into the darker elements of its story. The marsh that Edgar-Jones’ Kya calls house is brightly lit all through a lot of the movie, which robs the atmosphere of its doubtlessly gothic environment. Newman, as a substitute, chooses to shoot The place the Crawdads Sing’s quite a few marsh sequences as if the atmosphere had been pulled out of a fairytale, with mild streaming in from all instructions and flowers blooming in all places you look. It’s a alternative that makes the movie’s general aesthetic really feel incongruous with its undeniably grim story.
Lucy Alibar’s flashback-heavy script, in the meantime, succeeds at turning The place the Crawdads Sing right into a complete portrait of its protagonist’s life, however it additionally forces the movie to maneuver at an unbearably languid tempo. After diving proper into the present-day, investigative aspect of its story, The place the Crawdads Sing goes on to spend most of its runtime prior to now, following Edgar-Jones’ Kya as she develops the talents that’ll allow her to stay on her personal and the relationships that’ll flip her life into an emotionally exhausting mess. Sadly, the movie’s intense deal with Kya’s previous additionally results in the courtroom scenes that she shares with Strathairn’s Tom feeling like footnotes in The place the Crawdads Sing’s story.
That particularly turns into the case through the movie’s second act, which introduces Smith’s Tate and Dickinson’s Chase in addition to the basically totally different romantic relationships that Kya types with each of them over time. It’s on this part that The place the Crawdads Sing turns into a drawn-out romantic melodrama that, regardless of Edgar-Jones’ palpable chemistry with each Smith and Dickinson, solely serves to additional spotlight the monotonous nature of the movie’s plot.
A disappointing thriller
The few emotionally affecting moments that The place the Crawdads Sing does ship all come from Edgar-Jones’ succesful efficiency as Kya. Regardless of being compelled to say a number of traces that, frankly, work higher in a e-book than they do in a movie, Edgar-Jones nonetheless manages to make Kya’s energy and insecurities really feel actual. She brings a quiet steadiness to her character that not solely provides additional authenticity to the movie’s characterization of her but in addition makes it straightforward to purchase into among the extra questionable or troublesome selections that she is compelled to make all through it.
The truth that she manages to take action in a movie that so usually looks like it’s operating on autopilot is a testomony to Edgar-Jones’ more and more apparent talents as a performer. In contrast to its lead star although, The place the Crawdads Sing fails to convey the depth that its story that it so dearly requires. The movie doesn’t totally decide to any of the elements of its plot or setting that might have helped it craft a clearer identification for itself, and its disinterest in Kya’s courtroom experiences solely makes every thing that occurs all through it really feel all of the extra inconsequential.
Subsequently, whereas it really works as a showcase for Daisy Edgar-Jones, her efficiency isn’t sufficient to cease The place the Crawdads Sing from getting misplaced within the weeds.
The place the Crawdads Sing hits theaters on Friday, July 15.