Review by Camden Ferrell
Where the Crawdads Sing is a crime drama based on the book of the same name by Delia Owens. Released in 2018, the book became a global phenomenon and currently has a place on the Wikipedia page for a list of the best-selling books of all time, nestled with timeless classics and contemporary hits alike. Even if the book was a massive success, the movie is a mostly dull and predictable crime drama that is competently made but doesn’t do much to captivate or entertain audiences.
Kya is a young woman who becomes a suspect of a murder investigation in a small town in North Carolina. From here, we see flashbacks and parallel storylines that detail her childhood, raising herself in the marsh as well as the legal proceedings of the main investigation. This is a great set up for an interesting crime drama that can also use its different timelines to be a fresh addition to the crime genre.
From the start, the movie makes it painfully clear that it has no intention of breaking the mold or doing anything daring with its narrative approach. Written by Lucy Alibar who wrote the delightful film Troop Zero, this movie seems to lack a lot of distinct charm or personality. It features very familiar narrative beats, and it is full of cliché moments and dialogue that make the whole product feel too safe and predictable.
The performances from the cast are fairly strong, but it’s still a bit underwhelming considering the talent they acquired. Daisy Edgar-Jones leads the film as Kya, and the movie lives and dies by her performance, and her acting works more than it doesn’t. She recently delivered a great performance in Fresh, but this seems to lack the energy and emotion that she we know she’s able to deliver. The rest of the cast including actors like Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn, and Taylor John Smith are able to deliver decent performances that aren’t particularly memorable.
The movie is well-made on the surface. Adequate cinematography, score, and direction make this product feel marketable and palatable, but this ultimately prevents the movie from feeling engaging, fresh, or daring. It’s a standard crime drama that drags on far too long with inconsistent emotional execution and an ending that is predictable and lacks a punch.
Where the Crawdads Sing will undoubtedly have a great deal of fans whether it be from those who enjoy crime dramas, fans of the book, or both. However, many will find its sensibilities too familiar and boilerplate to make for an affecting and powerful movie. It’s competent in most of its aspects, but it has no interest in elevating itself beyond passable quality.
Where the Crawdads Sing is in theaters July 15.