I left speechless. For almost the entirety of the runtime, I was caught in an emotional riptide that held me in suspended animation and all I could do is let the tears flow down my cheeks.
‘Where the Crawdads Sings’ is the film adaptation of the best-selling book of the same name by Delia Owens. There is a mysterious death of a young man out in the Carolina marshlands. The small, mid-century, southern town is bursting with gossip that the young woman they had always labeled an outsider could be behind it. Her name is Catherine “Kya” Clarke (Daisy Edgar-Jones) but they just called her “The Marsh Girl”.
I did not read the book prior to seeing this movie and so I knew nothing about the plot. I assumed there was some kind of love story involved and there was. The courtroom setting with “murder of the first degree” in question was not expected.
At the start of the film, my mind made a lot of connections to To Kill A Mockingbird. Kya was an outsider to a southern town in a time of prejudice. She was also being tried for a crime without sufficient evidence. Then there’s an Atticus type character named Tom Milton (David Strathairn) and the young woman’s narrations throughout.
As the story rolls on, however, I saw less and less of that storyline and lost myself entirely in the life of this girl. I was watching a young “Kya” (Jojo Regina) go through her trials and it felt like actual video of this girl‘s life. She was left to fend for herself as a child and all you wanted was to see more people show her kindness. There is a humanization of everyone who does and a gaping hole in your heart when they don’t. The acting was superb.
One moment that stands out to me was where you got a glimpse of why her father was the way he was; he’d grown up with the tide like his daddy before him, went to war, came home and didn’t know how to deal with trauma, self medicated, and always lived by the mantra: “You can’t trust nobody.” That lead Kya to grow up on a foundation of shifting sands where her trauma became determination to survive and the mantra “no one ever stays.”
The movie earns its mature rating. I strongly caution anyone who is struggling with trauma from domestic or sexual abuse as this would definitely be triggering. There was a moment where I felt violated just seeing it.
I know I’m making it sound like a terrible time at the movies but I’m one who enjoys stories that leave you wanting to look at people differently, with more compassion and less judgement. This filled that desire and I loved it.
Where The Crawdads Sing is a complex story that hits on many themes: right and wrong, love and loss, safety and survival wrapped in a courtroom mystery.