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Where The Crawdads Sing review: 'Of Love and Other Demons'

Melancholy, and the courage to embrace loneliness head-on, is the selling point of Where The Crawdads Sing, and a well-read Witherspoon, & Co., somehow misses the marshes along the way. 

Where The Crawdads Sing review: 'Of Love and Other Demons'
A still from the film
  • Pallabi Dey Purkayastha

Last Updated: 02.43 PM, Sep 17, 2022


STORY: Kya Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones) has had a tough one: she's navigating this otherwise ruthless world without a single soul to fall back on; alone and lonely. Over her desolute life looms dark clouds of suspicion when she has to leave the quiet marches she calls home to face humanity as she is accused of committing a murder. This book-to-screen adaptation is a far cry from its poignant source material.

REVIEW: If you are a book nerd and follow Reese Witherspoon's book club on Instagram, then in all probability you already know the Big Little Lies star has taken on the producing duties for this visual adaptation of Delia Owens's heartwrenching novel of the same name. What worked for the original piece was Owen's understanding of the human world, especially when confined in one's own complex mind, and how to give it a humane spin. For the movie, Reese Witherspoon invested the big bucks and of course, I had dreamt some happy dreams pertaining to the film.

Call me a cynic, but there's something outrageously gorgeous about gloomy people and their nihilistic outlook towards life. In a scene, a particularly pierce-through-your-heart one, Kya retires and then submits to the trickery of life, stating:

"I had to do life alone. I had known for a long time that people don’t stay."

You see, Kya wants the big life and happy home, too, but she just cannot bring herself to move. So,when her mother and siblings escape from the clutches of her abusive father for greener pastures, she stays: she stays for the quietness of the marshes, or the noise within it; she stays to prove something she has known all along... that people come and go and all you got is YOU. 

Parallelly, Kya is anything but a conformist. Her refusal to blend in with the 'crowd', or even be a part of it, is often shamed and ridiculed. To top it all, she lives in an abandoned house that's been in a deplorable state for ages. Kya, in short, is a living embodiment of those who dare to lead a life that others do not understand. While, in the same breath, suffering in slience and pining for what could have been. 

Mother Nature, of whom Kya is a fan, sends a special someone to ease the pain of her conflicted heart. Her prophecy on life, however, comes true in that crucial juncture: "She had to do life alone."

When the loner is accused of killing Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson), a man whose body is found near her house, all fingers point in her direction. So, did she or did she not?

Melancholy, and the courage to embrace loneliness head-on, is the selling point of Where The Crawdads Sing and a well-read Witherspoon (& Co.) somehow misses the marshes along the way. 

The basic idea behind the concept, of both the film and the novel, is to lace love with death, marry murder with morbid, and while the basic essence of this extended life-lesson remains intact, the emotions in the film's characters fall flat.

As a thriller, director Olivia Newman fails to wrap the emotional selling points with the elements of mystery and intrigue any decent thriller should possess. Not that the screenplay was adding depth in any way, anyway. Daisy Edgar-Jones' probably the only positive about the film, with the marshes being a close second (if it counts). 

Where The Crawdads Sing is a film that was to be lovely and poignant and exuding an omniscient energy. But, it is, at best, a first-draft version of its glorious pen-to-paper self.