Movie review: “Where the Crawdads Sing” sorely disappoints



“Where the Crawdads Sing” was released July 15, 2022.

Olivia Newman’s “Where the Crawdads Sing” is yet another disappointing movie rendition of a superior novel. Set in rural North Carolina, the movie follows Kya Clark, portrayed by Daisy Edgar Jones, a girl who is accused of murder. Kya lives in the deep marshes of a town called Barkley Cove. 


Throughout Barkley Cove, Kya is known as the “marsh girl,” and is ignored and neglected because of this. Kya is excluded from society, struggling silently with abuse and neglect in the marsh. While the 2018 book blends the dynamics of characters into perfect harmony, the movie’s choppy character development offers abrupt conclusions to characters’ relationships and connections.


The only thing admirable about the movie is the cinematography, which expresses an evocative introduction to the life of the “marsh girl.” The portrayal of nature is surprisingly breathtaking, but it isn’t enough to convince the viewer of Kya’s true life in the marsh. The life of endless solitude, broken promises, and a dependence to the beautiful marsh.


In the book, the description of Kya and her marsh demonstrates an incredible connection, as Kya sees the marsh as her home. As Delia Owens writes, “Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.” However, in the movie, Kya’s relationship with the marsh itself is unclear and feels forced. 


This strained relationship is also displayed through Kya’s relationship with her dad, Pa, (Garret Dillahunt) and her two competing love interests, Chase (Harris Dickinson) and Tate, (Taylor John Smith) whose characters are both rushed and not comparable to the characters displayed in the book. 


In the book, the format of jumping between the present and past is effective and makes sense, but it doesn’t work translated to film.   The movie highlights Kya’s adulthood without emphasizing the time she spent alone in the marsh, which is the most important part of the book. 


 Disappointingly, Kya’s solitary struggle isn’t shown at all in the movie. Instead, Kya’s romance is emphasized. In the book, I saw Kya’s relationship with her “love interests”  as a need for companionship in the marsh, but in the movie, it is portrayed as her feminine need for a romantic partner. 


The movie, “Where the Crawdads Sing” is not one I recommend, mainly because it does not live up to the book. I was disappointed by this movie, but don’t let that deter you from reading the book itself because it is spectacular.