I attended a media preview of this film. All opinions are my own.
I had never read this book and wasn’t very familiar with the plot of the movie aside from what is featured in its trailer. Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, made this movie and she produced it. She has described it as a love story to the South. The film is set in North Carolina in the 1960’s. The marsh is so beautiful and almost seems magical in the isolation that is featured in the film. It is a bit slow and reminded me a bit of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Sony Pictures has put together a toolkit if you are wanting to host your own Sip and See Crawdads gathering.
The movie follows Kya. She is the youngest of 4 siblings who lived in a small humble house in the marsh. We don’t get to know the siblings much in the movie as they all leave to escape the abuse of their father. Her mother is the first to leave, Kya’s father beat her mother so bad to the point that she actually left the house forgetting she had children and he threatened to kill her or them if she ever returned. Kya was the one to watch her mother walk away from the path leading away from their house. As someone who is an orphan I know the pain of remembering the last time you laid eyes on your parents and holding that memory for a lifetime. There is a moment in the movie where Kya either sees her mother’s spirit or thinks she does and it absolutely gutted me. Kya was left alone with her alcoholic father, who was in the military, who isolated her so much that she would get in trouble for saying hi to her brother’s friend Tate, or the local store owners. Eventually while Kya was not yet a teenager her father also abandoned her. She raised herself in isolation in their family home, never attending school and evading social services. She sold mussels to the local general store to be able to buy food. The owners Mabel and Jumpin helped her whenever they could and became an extended family. Instead of realizing that this poor child had been abandoned and showing compassion the other townsfolk of Barclay Cove labelled her the “marsh girl” and made her a myth to gossip about. They had decided that she was less than them and really shunned her.
This is really a coming-of-age movie. The story follows Kya as she grows up to a be a young adult who has found herself in a bit of a love triangle with two men, Tate Walker and Chase Andrews. One taught her to read and write and really saw her as more than the marsh girl and the other was a young man who was arrogant and dishonest who believed he was better than her. Both broke her heart in different ways but she was accused of murdering one. She went to trial for his murder and had a jury of the same townsfolk from Barclay Cove that had judged her her entire life. The trial will leave you guessing whodunit.
The movie really has a nurture vs nature theme of what shapes us as humans. By choosing to avoid going to a group home, Kya picked a life of isolation essentially being raised by nature. She learned life lessons from insects, animals and the wildlife in which she was raised. She didn’t choose to interact with very many people aside from Mabel and Jumpin. This movie really makes you think about if any of the decisions of any of the characters had been different that for all would have led them down a completely different path with completely different outcomes.
Where the Crawdads Sing stars Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) as “Kya Clark,” Taylor John Smith (Sharp Objects) as “Tate Walker,” Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man) as “Chase Andrews,” Michael Hyatt (Snowfall) as “Mabel,” Sterling Macer, Jr. (Double Down) as “Jumpin’,” and David Strathairn (Nomadland) as “Tom Milton.” Olivia Newman (First Match) directs the screenplay by Lucy Alibar (Beasts of the Southern Wild) based upon the novel by Delia Owens. The 3000 Pictures film is being produced by Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter.
If you have seen the movie, let me know your thoughts in the comments.