The story of Where the Crawdads Sing centers around a young woman, Kya (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones), who was abandoned as a child. The movie adaptation of the popular novel follows Kya as she raises herself from a young age in the marshlands of North Carolina in the 1950s and 60s. Taught to hide and keep to herself, a young Kya learns to survive as she becomes increasingly ostracized from society. As Kya tries to survive a troubled and tortured life, she learns life the hard way as she grows into her own person.
This mystery drama crossed with a suspected hint of non-fiction starts off with a bang as we learn of a murder of a man, Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson) in 1969. Kya is arrested as the prime suspect and charged with murder, and she prepares to fight for her life in court. Kya is quickly looked at as the awkward outsider “marsh girl”, and through flashbacks the audience gets a better understanding of her character.
The story certainly played out as interesting tale of whodunnit and clearing one’s name, however it was the acting of Kya by Daisy Edgar-Jones was a shining light throughout the movie. She carried all scenes she was in and made you genuinely root for her throughout her life. Will Kya ever just catch a break? Daisy Edgar-Jones proves once again that she can pull off the quirky awkwardness of the ‘marsh girl’ well with her wide range of acting abilities that include her expressions of intrigue, curiosity, turmoil, and heart break.
As Kya’s adoptive (?) family slowly disappears, we are introduced to her growing relationship with somewhat guardian angel figures of Jumpin’ (Sterling Macer Jr) and Mabel (Michael Hyatt). As shop owners in 1950s North Carolina, and the struggles they would’ve endured in reality of the times and political issues at the time, their performances speak volumes to their struggles as well.
Where the Crawdads Sing jumps through a rather vast amount of time, and as Kya starts maturing, she befriends a local named Tate (Taylor John Smith). They go through the typical boy girl drama that teenagers do, and Kya starts to understand more of the world she finds herself living in. As the progression of the characters continue, it does get a little messy and would have played out better if the film montaged the awkward growing stages as to not detract from the fact that these actors are still playing themselves, just much older as the film continues in the late 60s and early 70s.
Once the film gets back on track to the main story we were initially equated to, we continue to investigate the murder of Chase, and further develop Kya’s character and the new things she begins to learn. A strong theme to the movie is the connection to nature and the naturalist world especially as the human world abandons her. There were various scenes in the movie which attempted to show her connection to animals (such as the various scenes with birds) but they were very brief or subtle. It seems that these ideas were more prevalent in the novelization but were added to the final version of the film as to not leave too much out from the original source material. However, this was a distraction from the overall engrossment of the film.
While it may not be the most shocking of events, there are certainly a few twists to be found throughout the story that will keep audiences guessing until the final mystery is solved. Fans and readers of the book will most likely enjoy it more than someone whose not situated with the source material, which is a nice added addition to the movie overall. Daisy Edgar-Jones performance was so strong that it carried the movie through. However, with a story as complex and dense as this one, it may have been a better mini-series than a movie, to flesh out the characters more but overall it was a well done effort lead by an extraordinary performance by Daisy-Edgar Jones.