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Where the Crawdads Sing Review

Where the Crawdads Sing
Punarvasu Pendse /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait for OTT
Going into movies completely blind is often a curse. While the purpose of keeping an open mind for reviewing is achieved, it entails going in without any context - and there are more bad or average movies than good ones - and so you tend to get the raw end of the deal more often than not. But every now and then comes along a movie that genuinely manages to grasp your interest and doesn't let it go even when you know nothing about it.

Director Olivia Newman's Where The Crawdads Sing is one such movie that I had no clue about going in, and had no expectations from. I had heard of the book it was adapted from, but had not read it - and it had me hooked within the first five minutes.

Catherine "Kya" Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a loner living on the North Carolina marshlands in the '50s. Abandoned by her family, and shunned by the local village folk, the young girl learns to survive in the tough environments with little help from the outside world. She takes control of her life with incredible resilience, as she shuts herself out from the world from which she was forsaken.

But the outside world does come knocking, and Kya is thrust into the limelight as she becomes the prime suspect in a murder case. When everything else seems to go awry, the only ally she has is nature, and she retreats as far away as she can - way out yonder where the crawdads sing.

The titular "crawdad", better known as the crayfish, is a pretty commonly eaten crustacean in the American South. The term "where the crawdads sing" comes from the childhood of the mother of author Delia Owens, on whose book the film is based - and that ties into the strong Southern Gothic theme the movie has (Owens was from the state of Georgia). The underlying themes of isolation, neglect, abuse, distrust of outsiders and violence are all a part of the movie - weaved in with a strong female lead who refuses to endure exploitation without being some kind of superheroine.

It is hard to talk about Where The Crawdads Sing without giving out too many details, but it is one of the most visually gorgeous movies I have had the pleasure of viewing in 2022. Polly Morgan's cinematography has no right to make a movie about abandonment and abuse look and feel as beautiful as it does, yet it does so and more. The movie's script, while not at the same level as the cinematography, as it loses the tension it creates in its first half with a slow-paced second half, still manages to piece together a watchable, if rambling, murder thriller / courtroom drama / romance. The first half, which focuses more on the tender moments of Kya's life, is where the movie shines, and leaves us rooting for the quiet strength of its lead character.

Speaking of rooting for the main character, Daisy Edgar-Jones delivers a powerhouse performance, playing the hauntingly self-effacing Kya with guileless grace. Edgar-Jones elevates the movie to a much higher level, ably supported by a supporting cast that works with her while letting her shine. Harris Dickinson's one-dimensional Chase Andrews seems to be the only performance that isn't enjoyable - although he was not helped by the script.

Mychael Danna's score strikes the right chord - every emotion is reflected in the music, be it eerieness, conflict, melancholy, tension or joy. And singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, a huge fan of the book, wanted to create a memorable song for the film when she heard of its production, and amply succeeds with "Carolina", a song written for the movie that sort of summarises Kya's story perfectly and is a fitting end to the film.

Where The Crawdads Sing, releasing in India a few months after its sleeper smash hit status in the US of A, is a perfect example of a smaller film (mostly) doing things right. Watch out for Daisy Edgar-Jones - she is a star!
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Where the Crawdads Sing (english) reviews
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  • Cast
    Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer Jr.
  • Music
    Mychael Danna, Taylor Swift
  • Director
    Olivia Newman
  • Theatres
    Not screening currently in any theatres in Hyderabad.
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