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The Hollywood Insider Where the Crawdads Sing Review

Photo: ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’

Recently, there’s been an influx of adaptations, series, remakes, and other films with various source materials. New releases include the latest installment to the MCU, a prequel to a childhood favorite, or another visit to Jurassic Park. Some may complain that even the new movies aren’t actually ‘new’ but rather a rehashing of old ideas and content. But that complaint isn’t always present. The film adaptation of ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is highly anticipated and will not disappoint. 

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The novel ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ was released in 2018 and quickly rose in popularity, becoming a New York Times bestseller in both 2019 and 2020. By 2022 the novel had sold over 12 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling books of all time, beating out iconic books such as ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘The Cat in the Hat’. In 2018 Reese Witherspoon selected the novel for her Hello Sunshine book club and was so impressed with it that she pursued a film adaptation, producing the film with her Hello Sunshine production company. Witherspoon was not the only one eager for a film adaptation, and ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ has become among the most highly anticipated book-to-movie adaptations. 

Where the Crawdads Sing’ – Plot Overview 

Kya Clarke (Daisy Edgar-Jones) was abandoned by her family at a young age. Young and alone with nowhere to go, Kya spent most of her childhood alone in a North Carolina marsh. The townspeople refer to Kya as the Marsh Girl and are overwhelmingly unkind to her, but Kya is not interested in their companionship regardless. Kya doesn’t trust the people around her, she has no reason to trust anyone after she was abandoned by her family. Her abandonment issues continue as her one friend, Tate Walker (Taylor John Smith), leaves for college. Tate had taught Kya to read and write, extending a hand of normalcy to her, but ultimately leaving her even more abandoned than before. 

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Kya connects with someone again when she enters a relationship with Chase Walker (Harris Dickinson), the quarterback and somewhat of a local celebrity. Promises of marriage and a comfortable life draw Kya into security, but she is disappointed when her comfortable future never comes to be, so she ends the relationship. Chase attacks Kya and she escapes, but Chase is later found dead in the marsh. Kya is the town’s primary suspect. She must attempt to clear her name despite all the signs pointing toward her guilt. 

An Honest Adaptation 

Film adaptations are often hit or miss, either beloved by the book’s fans or ignored entirely, disliked for not being an authentic representation of the source material. Of course, there are loads of factors that can make the adaptation successful and popular; book-accurate casting, minimal departures from the original plot, and an overall similar feel to the novel, to name a few. But often it seems that the biggest factor is when you can tell that the film’s creative team feels genuine love for the book. It feels like you can tell when the writers, producers, and director are dedicated to an honest, accurate, and loving adaptation, bringing the world of the novel from the page to the screen. 

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‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is everything that fans of the novels could want from a film adaptation. The casting is true to the book and each actor embodied their character perfectly, combining their own artistic choices with a characterization that came directly from the novel. The overall feel of the film was entirely reminiscent of the novel. In the past, I have been one to avoid screen adaptations of my favorite books, hesitant to let someone else’s portrayal of the novel taint my own perception of it, but in this case, it is everything you could wish it to be. 

Heavy Themes, Beautiful Images 

‘Where the Crawdad Sings’ deals with a lot of heavy material. Kya’s life is far from perfect, easy, or picturesque. Her struggles come one after another and deal with the inner workings of the human experience and the way trauma influences who we are as individuals. She is constantly coping, or trying to cope, with abandonment, sexual assault, untreated mental health disorders, and other serious issues that require serious care. She does not have access to this care, however, and her trauma continues to build. 

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However, the heavy material does not prevent the film from being a beautiful piece of art. The film’s cinematographer, Polly Morgan, previously worked on ‘A Quiet Place Part II’, and the two films are surprisingly similar in the way the cinematography interacts with the subject matter. Both films are intense, at times life and death, situations, digging deep into the human psyche. Morgan creates art with the characters’ surroundings and the way the characters interact with setting. Each creative choice seems perfectly intentional, telling the story in the most efficient yet beautiful way. 

Adding to the film’s beautiful creative process was Taylor Swift, who wrote an original song for the film. The song, ‘Carolina’, was perfect for the film, encapsulating the feel and emotion of the novel and the film. Swift was a fan of the novel long before she was asked to contribute to the film and the care and respect she has for the story is clear. 

In Summary 

‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is most definitely worth a watch when it has its wide release on July 15. The film is the perfect novel adaptation and is a work of art even if you know nothing about the source material. The cast and creative team collaborated perfectly with each other and the novel to create an honest, artistic adaptation. As with all cases that surround sensitive material, be sure to stay informed regarding the traumatic subject material, prioritizing your own safety first, 

Cast & Crew: 

Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson

Director: Olivia Newman 

Writer: Screenplay by Lucy Alibar, Novel by Delia Owens 

By Lara Glennon

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