Coming to theatres from director Olivia Newman, Hello Sunshine and Sony Pictures is a story of love and betrayal WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING.
Kya Clarke (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a young woman who has lived a pain filled life. As a young girl, she watched her family fall apart at the hands of her Pa (Garret Dillahunt). After abusing his wife and family, each of them slowly escaped leaving Kya behind.
Seeing what has happened to Kya are local store owners Jumpin (Sterling Macer, Jr.) and wife Mabel (Michael Hyatt). Then Kya is left alone to raise herself in the marsh and bayou outside of town. With no social skills and a fear of everyone but the store owners, Kya lives in her own wonderful creature filled world of sight, sound and art.
Now a young woman, Kya has been discovered by local boy Tate (Taylor John Smith) who brings her feathers. Slowly they get to know one another and Kya finds love for the first time as does Chase. The town is talking and even Chase’s father offers a small warning knowing that his son has plans for his future.
Chase finally tells Kya about his plans and she waits for his return on a designated day. When life changes things, Kya meets Chase (Harris Dickinson) who seems infatuated with the infamous ‘marsh girl’. Also, all her drawings and works are finding their way into bestselling books!
But Kya is always waiting for the other shoe to fall and when it does, lives are changed, lies and truths criss-cross and the ‘marsh girl’ fights for her life with the help of Tom Milton (David Strathairn).
Edgar-Jones as Kya brings everything to her character. There is innocence, abandonment, suspicion, desire to be loved, fear, sadness and knowing when to say nothing and observe. I enjoyed that very much about the portrayal of this character. Kya’s journey is one that is symbolically relatable in many ways because we all have, at one time or another, felt everything she feels. Well done!
Smith as Tate is a young man who sees Kya for exactly who she presents herself to be. He has seen only a small dose of her childhood but knows it is enough to cause her uncertainty. Not pushed by how the town’s people see her, it is his own future that causes a rift. Smith gives his character an equally tender heart.
Macer, Jr. as Jumpin is a man who feels a connection to the young Kya and a need to protect her and keep those that are trying to change her at bay. Marcer, Jr. exudes in his character an amazing example of a descent and devoted human being. Hyatt as Mabel is the loving mother-figure in Kya’s life but never let it be said that she does not have an opinion on life nor afraid to express it. I just love Hyatt’s portrayal of her.
Dickinson as Chase is the town boy who seems to have it all and yet knows he has to follow what his parents want. Even with that, there is a darkness that slowly shows itself and Dickinson supplies the creepies I got watching this character unfold his own story.
Strathairn as Milton is a man who sees a young Kya and never forgets how the town not only saw her but continued to see her. There was never any question that he would look out for the young woman and Strathairn’s portrayal is that of a man who can relate to Kya. Dillahunt as Pa has issues brought on by his own pain and instead of dealing with them, he becomes everything those around him fear. It is a powerful portrayal.
Other cast include Jayson Warner Smith as Deputy Joe Purdue, Ahna O’Reilly as Ma Clarke, Eric Ladin as Eric Chastain, Luke David Blumm as Young Tate and Jojo Regina as Young Kya.
Where the Crawdads Sing is a novel written by Delia Owens in 2018 and as of December 2019, over 4.5 million copies of the books were sold. Topping The New York Times Best Sellers list, it also made The New York Times Fiction Best Seller in 2020. By February 2022, the novel spent over one hundred and fifty weeks on the best seller list.
The film is very subtle in its telling and moves at a pace conducive to Kya’s surroundings. Everything is taken in small doses, just as Kya’s awakening to the life around her comes does. Using the marsh and bayou as a backdrop to tell this story makes it a living and breathing part of the film.
What I appreciated most about it all is that it follows Kya’s life from childhood to adulthood. The experiences this young girl has forms a woman who is such a mixed bag of emotions but they are hers, each and every one with no apologies and no excuses.
The cast holds up the character of Kya but also have their own story to tell and the part they play in the young woman’s life. This is a film that should not only be seen, but experienced.
In the end – secrets are buried just beneath the surface!