For a movie that takes such nice pains to immerse viewers within the atmosphere of 1 particular nook of the US, 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 Nineteen 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 other way up, The place the Crawdads Sing stays surprisingly unimaginative, and its refusal to decide to the darker gothic parts of its story renders the movie lifeless. Consequently, what might have been a moody and immersive homicide thriller as an alternative finally ends up feeling extra like a secure cross between a late-era Nicholas Sparks adaptation and an uninspired, psychologically skinny character examine.
A suspicious demise
The place the Crawdads Sing follows Catherine “Kya” Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones from the Hulu sequence Regular Folks), a younger girl who’s positioned beneath arrest for the suspected homicide of Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson) within the movie’s opening prologue. After a kind-hearted lawyer (David Strathairn) subsequently provides to signify her, Kya shortly finds herself in the course of a trial that has the facility 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 incessantly chopping again to the occasions of her present-day trial.
By the movie’s prolonged flashback sequences, we’re given glimpses into Kya’s troublesome childhood and the years she spent dwelling beneath 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 additionally Harris Dickinson’s Chase Andrews, the very man whose demise will ship her present-day life spiraling into chaos.
Between its central homicide, distinctive marshland setting, and probably tense courtroom subplot, The place the Crawdads Sing has all the mandatory 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 imagine. Its strategy to violence finally ends up feeling notably missing, with director Olivia Newman prepared to depict the assorted horrific acts which can be perpetrated towards Kya by the lads round her however not the payback that she is justifiably prepared 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 facets 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 probably gothic ambiance. Newman, as an alternative, 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 gentle streaming in from all instructions and flowers blooming in all places you look. It’s a selection that makes the movie’s total 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, nevertheless it additionally forces the movie to maneuver at an unbearably languid tempo. After diving proper into the present-day, investigative facet of its story, The place the Crawdads Sing goes on to spend most of its runtime up to now, following Edgar-Jones’ Kya as she develops the talents that’ll allow her to dwell on her personal and the relationships that’ll flip her life into an emotionally exhausting mess. Sadly, the movie’s intense give attention to 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 in the course of the movie’s second act, which introduces Smith’s Tate and Dickinson’s Chase in addition to the essentially totally different romantic relationships that Kya varieties 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 strains that, frankly, work higher in a guide than they do in a movie, Edgar-Jones nonetheless manages to make Kya’s power 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 additionally makes it simple to purchase into among the extra questionable or troublesome choices 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. Not like its lead star although, The place the Crawdads Sing fails to carry the depth that its story that it so dearly requires. The movie doesn’t totally decide to any of the facets of its plot or setting that might have helped it craft a clearer id 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.
Due to this fact, 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.
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