THE MOVIE GUY – ‘Crawdads’ Movie Misses Romance Magic – Port Arthur News
“Where the Crawdads Sing”
Directed by Olivia Newman
With Daisy Edgar-Jones, Garret Dillahunt, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn and Sterling Macer, Jr.
Delia Owen’s 2018 novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing,” spent 157 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He has millions of ardent fans – I count myself among them. It’s no surprise that I was very excited to see the film adaptation, which hits theaters this weekend.
Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was quite disappointed. This film is a pale imitation of the book, dutifully touching on the main plot points, but completely missing the spirit of the novel. I imagine fans might enjoy reliving the story, but non-fans will leave the theater wondering what it was all about.
The story should be about Kya, a young girl who was abandoned by her family and left to rise amid the swamps of North Carolina. She refuses to go to school, preferring to study nature instead. Daisy Edgar-Jones plays Kya when she grows up a little, and she enjoys an idyllic but wild existence until two young men show up, panting at her door (Taylor John Smith and Harris Dickenson).
They both say they love her, but one of them ends up dead, and Kya the “Swamp Girl” is put on trial for murder.
The film makes a business choice by casting Edgar-Jones in the lead role. The British actress is a rising star, and she’s certainly got talent, but she’s also so pale-skinned and sports such beautiful, non-frizzy hair that it’s hard to imagine her having spent a single day in nature, not to mention her. Entire life. You would never look at her thinking, oh yeah, she’s a swamp girl.
You would also never look at the two young men in his life and think they were anything other than handsome but bland actors straight out of the central cast. They represent the twin allure of true love and dangerous lust in the novel, but it’s never really seen in this film. It’s hard to get into the mystery behind the murder when you’re not invested in these mundane characters.
The other major character in this story is the North Carolina wilderness, which is quite memorable in this movie. Filmed in Louisiana, there are plenty of opportunities to sit back and take in the beautiful nature that fills the screen. Kya becomes an acclaimed naturalist in the novels, and thanks to the cinematography and location scouting, her dynamism is absolutely understandable in this film.
Adapting a beloved novel for the big screen is never an easy task. You must narrow down the story while managing to bring the characters and setting to life. The best film adaptations find a way to balance the plot with the ineffable experience of reading the book. Pedestrian adaptations, such as “Where the Crawdads Sing”, hit the main story moments but miss the magic behind the characters.
All of this leaves fans, like me, very disappointed with the effort.
Sean McBride’s film reviews, ‘The Movie Guy’, are published weekly by Port Arthur Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at [email protected]