Film Review: Where The Crawdads Sing starring Daisy Edgar Jones

The highly anticipated adaptation of Delia Owens’ New York Times bestselling novel, Where The Crawdads Sing is premiering in cinemas across the UK and Ireland tomorrow, July 22, with literary lovers everywhere on the edge of their seats to find out if the production lives up to the hype.

Where The Crawdads Sing is produced by Reece Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, with acclaimed director Olivia Newman (First Match) at the helm, while Oscar-nominee Lucy Alibar (Beasts of the Southern Wild) penned the screenplay.

Starring as the protagonist is rising star Daisy Edgar Jones, who has become somewhat of a household name due to her breathtaking portrayal of Marianne Sheridan in the BBC’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, which aired in 2020.

As expected, Edgar Jones’ ability to translate characters from the page to the screen has continued with her take on Owens’ unique character Kya Clarke in Where The Crawdads Sing. Much like the beloved book, the story follows young Kya, or as the people of Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast know her, the ‘Marsh Girl’.

After being abandoned by her family, Kya is forced to raise herself, alone in the marshes just outside of town, However, when a handsome former boyfriend of Kya’s is mysteriously found dead, the townspeople take it upon themselves to brand Kya as the prime suspect.

Despite the fact that I consider myself an avid reader, I somehow managed to evade the phenomenon that is Delia Owens’ Where The Crawdads Sing, which was released in 2018. This gave me the unique opportunity to go into the theatre and experience Newman’s adaptation without any expectations.

Luckily, I think this worked in my favour, which is why I highly encourage other movie goers to keep an open mind this weekend.

From what I’ve heard, the Crawdads novel is hugely atmospheric, with detailed descriptions about nature, plants, animals, insects and wildlife playing a huge role in the overall storytelling. While this aspect of the novel is brought onto the screen, it might not be as integral as readers might like. 

However, I do believe that this decision was made for the better, as the story moves along at a steady pace, giving viewers a raw and unfiltered understanding of just how brutal and beautiful Kya’s childhood and home life was, living amongst the marsh all by herself.

The murder mystery aspect had me hooked from the very beginning and the court room scenes were evenly broken up by large chunks of backstory which show us how the ‘Marsh Girl’ became the unwanted outcast the townspeople know her to be.

At the root of this film is a coming-of-age story, as we watch Kya raise herself from a young dishevelled girl with no source of income to a self-sufficient, creative and intelligent woman, as she explores relationships, pursues her dreams and fights like hell to protect the life she’s built.

However, I did find it a bit unrealistic when the child version of Kya, expertly played by Jojo Regina, who is portrayed to be a dirty, shoeless kid with unruly hair and filthy clothes, seemed to suddenly transform into the clean and composed natural beauty that is Daisy Edgar Jones. 

That aside, Where The Crawdads Sing was thoroughly enjoyable. Some might say that it was slow in parts, but in my opinion that simply added to the ambiance and stillness of Kya’s life.

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