Friday Film Review--"Where the Crawdads Sing"
Set in the 1950s and 60s, in the marshes of North Carolina and a fictional small town, this unique coming of age story captivated readers and book discussion groups across our country when it was published in 2018.
It’s a toss-up as to whether I prefer the film over the novel. Many details and descriptions provided in print disappear, but the story retains its power and suspense, and the characters remain engaging and often heartbreaking. Outstanding cinematography provides a visual feast of flora and fauna. Sunrise over the marshes, whirlwinds of autumn leaves, lush woodlands and beautiful native wildlife make up the world of main character Catherine Danielle Clark or Kya.
Only six years old, when we meet her, Kya is the youngest of five siblings growing up impoverished and isolated in the remote marshes where nature is abundant, but nurture is either absent or abusive. First her mother, then one-by-one her siblings and eventually her father, leave her behind to navigate this mysterious and often cruel, world on her own.
The tale is told using two distinct story lines. In one, we observe Kya’s childhood adventures, both enchanting and haunting. She matures into an accomplished, self-taught naturalist and artist. The survival instinct she observes in nature, serves her well in the other story line, in which we witness Kya, tried for murder and judged by the people who have always alienated her. The narrative includes many heavy and ugly issues and yet somehow love and the wonders of nature triumph in the end.
Jojo Regina does a remarkable job playing young Kya. British actress Daisy Edgar-Jones plays older Kya, and I loved her in this role. She was believable as the shy recluse, with ethereal beauty and an extraordinarily resilient spirit. Taylor John Smith plays Tate, the one boy whose protective care and genuine love of Kya is both uplifting and agonizing. David Strathairn, as Kya’s defense lawyer is perfect as the North Carolina version of Atticus Finch.
I’ve read mixed reviews, but I’m glad I saw it on the big screen. I urge any readers, hesitating because they loved the book so much, to go and see the film version.
Where the Crawdads Sing is rated PG-13 and runs 2 hours and 5 instinctual minutes.