Where the Crawdads Sing

The reviewer has attempted to keep this review spoiler free.

I normally enjoy movies that the public enjoys and the critics dislike. Knowing this about myself, I fully expected to like the film Where the Crawdads Sing. However, after watching this movie adaptation of Delia Owen’s novel, I cannot recommend this movie in good conscience. Some may consider me an idealist, but I enjoy stories where average people act heroically despite difficult circumstances. Where the Crawdads Sing did not meet this expectation.

Where the Crawdads Sing Summary

The story’s heroine Kya, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones, was a happy child with a loving mother and many siblings. The movie began with the family enjoying a motorboat ride along the marsh where they lived. As the family was disembarking in front of their home, the camera suddenly focused on the drunken father who had emerged from the house and was enraged at his family for using the motorboat. As the father turned violent, the children began running for cover. Kya was hit first and knocked into the swamp water.

As Kya climbed out of the water, she saw an outsider near her own age rush at the father in Kya’s defense. She later learns this boy’s name is Tate (the older version of whom is played by Taylor John Smith). Kya pushed the boy away from her father, and her father turned on her mother. Later in the evening, Kya lay in bed, listening as her father continued to beat her mother. The next morning, Kya’s mother packed her bag and left all her children, never to return. All of the children, after being beaten by their father, followed suit over the next one or two years—all except Kya.

Kya had learned from the mistakes of her family when it came to dealing with her father. She kept quiet and stayed away from the other children in the nearby North Carolina town. Thus, her father treated her well for some time. He even provided her with a gift— an old keepsake from his military days. Then he too left, and at the age of seven, Kya was left to fend for herself.

Kya seems to be in her early to mid-twenties in 1969, the year when her story is told. Tate had returned when Kya was in her teens, teaching her to read and write and providing her with gifts. They formed a relationship which viewers could feel good about, with each party liking and respecting the other. But when Tate started college, Kya lost hope in ever seeing him again. That was when Chase was introduced.

Chase, played by Harris Dickinson, was a bad egg from the start. It began when Kya saw Chase looking at her, and she smiled at him. When he invited her to a picnic on a nearby beach, he attempted to force himself on Kya. After she broke free and said the date was over, Chase only pursued her all the more. He wooed her with talk of what their relationship could be. All too soon, he was spending far too much time in her lonely house in the swamp. He talked to Kya of dating and marriage and eventually took her innocence, but his intentions with her were never pure. It soon became apparent that Chase was very much like Kya’s father, simple and abusive.

Just as Kya was learning to avoid Chase, Tate made his reappearance. He was immensely sorry for leaving her without making good on his promises to return and asked her to forgive him. Kya said she didn’t know how to forgive.

 When Chase was suddenly found dead, Kya was accused for his murder. The “good citizens” who knew Kya as “the marsh girl” had no qualms with prosecuting her for his death. After all, Kya had sufficient reason to hate Chase. As the trial proceeded, the small handful of citizens who accepted and loved the young woman provided their thoughts against Kya’s involvement. Those who had never acknowledged Kya as a normal local resident presented evidence on how she had executed the murder. The jury’s conclusion was surprising to all involved.

My Opinion on Where the Crawdads Sing

I personally disliked this movie for several reasons. I will write on the main two. Firstly, the premise of Kya’s background is way too unrealistic. Though Kya’s mother supposedly tried to reunite with her children, I find it unlikely that neither Kya’s mother nor any of her siblings thought it a good idea to take her along with them. Also, I wonder why the father turned so violent one day? Can a wife and husband have been together so long before she realizes how abusive he is? I could ask many similar questions, but the movie offered me no answers.

The second largest reason I cannot recommend the movie is because of the ending. I cannot and will not advocate murder. Regardless of who the murderer was or how the murderer got away, I don’t believe it’s right to turn a murderer into a hero. While I thought Chase was a person without any admirable traits, I personally have to believe there is more than one way to deal with a thug.  Just like there is more than one way to skin a cat…or so the saying goes. But it seemed as if Where the Crawdads Sing promoted the right to kill, especially if the person being murdered was a bad character.

Where the Crawdads Sing Conclusion

I enjoyed the scenic backgrounds of Where the Crawdads Sing. When mud isn’t the main focus, the trees, the water, and the wildlife make swamps and marshes a true wonder to behold. Regardless of the beautiful scenery, I cannot recommend this movie to anyone. I especially do not recommend it to conservative families with children under the age of eighteen.

SCORE: 4/10

If the script writer had altered the ending somewhat, perhaps made the murder an accident, then I could have really enjoyed this movie. But in this instance, I have to agree with the movie critics and admit that I disliked film. I, personally, found the premise too exaggerated and the ending too horrific and disheartening.