7/10 While I have not read the acclaimed novel from Delia Owens upon which this film is based, every female in a book club within a 1,000 mile radius certainly did. The reason this is relevant is because almost all of the complaints about this film have been in comparison to the novel. While this is completely fair and all of those book clubs may be greatly disappointed with this adaptation, I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would since I never read the book. Taking the comparison to the novel aside, “Where the Crawdads Sing” is well acted, highlights a location (the deep south/the swamps of North Carolina) rarely seen onscreen and has an interesting story that takes an unexpected turn by the film’s end. Before I get to the rest of why this film works, we can get some of the negative aspects out of the way. Our main protagonist is Kya Clark and we see her at a couple different ages. While Daisy Edgar-Jones plays the adult version of Kya and is fantastic, Jojo Regina plays the younger version and has a couple of line deliveries/moments that leave much to be desired. For a film in such a swampy, lush environment, director Olivia Newman provides some rather vanilla, mediocre direction. It gets the job done but feels so basic while lacking any and all style. Finally, certain aspects of the story have been told a million times so while the plot entertains, it won’t blow you away by showing you something you’ve never seen before. Despite those flaws and any negative changes they might have made from the book to which only readers will be aware, there is a lot to admire here. In addition to the fantastic performance of Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith as Tate Walker, Harris Dickinson as Chase Andrews and the always reliable/underrated David Strathairn as Tom Milton all bring their A game to their respective characters. The emotional aspects of the film are well portrayed. From the abusive childhood and abandonment from a young age to the heartbreak of lost love to the fear of a guilty verdict in a courtroom trial, screenwriter Lucy Alibar brilliantly lets the emotional content shine. While not being groundbreaking, the plot entertained me from start to finish and what I thought might be a cheesy love story aimed at only the female demographic quickly became so much more as we get a murder mystery, a love triangle and even more. Right when I was ready to take off a point or two for the generic ending, we get hit with one Hell of a twist that shocked me and elevated the film, ensuring the film ends on a memorable moment. Despite its two hour run time, the pacing works well and doesn’t waste time with needless scenes. Characters largely get developed and have an arc from start to finish. While lovers of the original 2018 novel may have a completely different take than yours truly, “Where the Crawdads Sing” was a pleasant surprise for me, who went into it only knowing that Taylor Swift wrote a song for the film (which was generic at best). Lower your expectations if you loved the book but if you haven’t, you might find yourself enjoying the story of “The Marsh Girl”.

#MarshTimes / #WhatAreYouDoingInMySwamp / #SaveTheTate / #DontLetHimChaseYou / #DeadbeatCrawdad / #FireflyOverCountry

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