Where the Crawdads Sing
Photograph: Sony Pictures
  • Film

Where the Crawdads Sing

Not even an on-form Daisy Edgar-Jones can save this snoozy Southern gothic

Anna Bogutskaya

Time Out says

Abandoned by her family and siblings as a little girl, Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) grows up to be a resourceful, if shy, young woman with a love for drawing and hanging out in the marsh where she’s spent her entire life. She never learns how to read or attends school, and is relentlessly mocked by the townsfolk for being weird (read: poor). 

When the cocky former quarterback Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson) shows up dead, fingers are pointed at Kya and evidence incriminating her as the murderer start mounting. 

Based on the international bestseller by Delia Owens (who herself is implicated in a murky murder), this sticky southern gothic has all the ingredients of a prestige, awards-bait film. The film shifts between telling us Kya’s swampcore life story and her trial for murder, with Edgar-Jones doing a lot of work to keep us interested in what is ultimately a very bland film. There is no chemistry between any of the actors, and no propulsion to the story, other than finding out who actually murdered Chase, or if he was murdered at all. 

With no chemistry between the actors, it’s more aesthetic than film

The thick landscapes of the North Carolina marshes (actually filmed in Louisiana) have always been a great backdrop for murder, but Crawdads soon jettisons its potentially gripping gothic elements for a romance shot like a glossy TV ad. Stifle your yawns as Kya falls in love with fellow nature-loving hunk Tate (Taylor John Smith), only to get abandoned again.

Where the Crawdads Sing is more aesthetic than film. The dresses are summery and cute, Kya’s cottage is shabby chic and everyone has perfectly tousled hair, at all times. But trying to find anything deeper than interior design inspiration in this film is a futile exercise.

In US theaters now. In UK cinemas Jul 22.

Cast and crew

  • Director:Olivia Newman
  • Screenwriter:Lucy Alibar
  • Cast:
    • Harris Dickinson
    • Daisy Edgar-Jones
    • David Straithairn
    • Taylor John Smith
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