Complete A-Z list

Where the Crawdads Sing


Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn, Garret Dillahunt, Sterling Macer Jr, Michael Hyatt, Jojo Regina

Director: Olivia Newman

This virtually all-woman project is a real retro movie that could easily have come out of Warner Brothers in the early 1960s. And its plot is about as convincing as soapy young romances were then. We're deep in the marshlands of North Carolina, where Kya Clark (Regina, very promising) has been on her own since she was 10, her mother, brothers and sisters all having walked out on their unsmiling and violently abusive father (Dillahunt).

Soon, he too departs, but Kya fends for herself, becoming known locally as 'the marsh girl'. She cannot read or write, but sells mussels to make a living and draws incredible pictures of the natural world around her. Years pass, and a teenage Kya (Edgar-Jones, from UK TV's Normal People) falls for fisherman's son Tate (Smith), who teaches her to read and write, and encourages her to send her shell and wildlife paintings to a publisher.

When he fails to return from college, Kya is devastated and soon falls into the clutches and boorish charm of local stud Chase (Dickinson).

Right now, though, Kya is on the run after Chase is found face-down in the marshes. and soon finds herself arraigned for murder. It's hard to see how she could have even been charged, given the lack of hard evidence, let alone brought to trial. But never mind, she has a twinkly-eyed Strathairn, doing his best Atticus Finch, to defend her.

Edgar-Jones valiantly does what she can with the novelettish material on hand, but the spectre of Debbie Reynolds in Tammy hangs heavily over the film, and the men are no more than bland Hollywood hunks.

As for the 'crawdads', since they are in fact crayfish, it's hard to see them doing much singing, and indeed none is heard.

David Quinlan

USA 2022. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by Company 3.
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 17 Jul 2022