Where the Crawdads Sing begins with the shocking and mysterious death of Chase Andrews, in the middle of the picturesque marshes of the fictitious town of Barkley Cove, North Carolina. Prejudice and fearful rumours lead people to blame Kya ‘The Marsh Girl’, played by Normal People star Daisy Edgar-Jones. From then on, we see figments of Kya’s childhood, set in 1952, which bring with them themes of abandonment, abuse, and loneliness. Despite these sombre themes (which mean this film is best enjoyed by those aged 15 and over) we also see the heart-warming kindness shown by local shop owners which gives the audience a welcome respite from the despondency.
Until the end, the film flicks between past events leading up to the death of Chase Andrews, and tantalising glimpses of the present, during which an intense court battle is occurring. When the end of each scene left me desperate to know more- I realised I was captivated.
Running through the entire piece, the theme of nature is brought to life by the breath-taking scenery of the marshland. Though I have not read it, I am certain that the setting does justice to the detailed description in the book, as it was mostly shot in a real landscape, not a studio. This is skillfully accentuated by the soft yet radiant lighting which matches the ethereal music, making the whole atmosphere enthralling. I was transported. As for the characters, in the passionate scenes full of such raw emotion, I found it difficult to imagine that they were just actors, they felt so real and were played to perfection- especially Tate, the charming yet conflicted lover.
Interestingly, the trailer had me believe that the plot was a simple love story, perhaps a jealous ex ruining a happily ever after. But don’t be fooled. Unpredictable and a little twisty, there is much more to this original storyline, than the trailer lets on. Though I doubted at first that it would, it did have a feel-good ending - as well as a surprising twist.
Classy but by no means cliché, I really believe this beautiful work has the potential to become a treasured classic.