On July 13, “Where the Crawdads Sing” finally hit theaters.
Although it was based on Delia Owens’ best-selling (if not controversial) novel, it’s starting to look like the movie won’t be able to live up to its reputation.
The film, directed by Olivia Newman, stars Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor Jon Smith, Harris Dickinson, and Michael Hyatt, among others. The synopsis of the film reads:
“Abandoned as a girl, Kya raised herself in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumors of the marsh girl haunted Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community. Drawn to two young men from town, she opens herself to a new and startling world.”
Critics Praise Daisy Edgar-Jonas But Slam The ‘Corny’ Plot Of ‘Where The Crawdads Sing’
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film got a 93% audience score on Friday afternoon but only a 33% score from critics. The critic consensus seemed to praise the acting of the film’s star, Daisy Edgar-Jones, but couldn’t get behind the plot. It read:
“Daisy Edgar-Jones gives it her all, but Where the Crawdads Sing is ultimately unable to distill its source material into a tonally coherent drama.”
Peter Travers of ABC News wrote, “The Delia Owens bestseller about sex and murder in the Carolinas comes to the screen as an antiseptic, airbrushed, miscast misfire that takes so few risks with the publishing phenom that it feels more embalmed than a freshly imagined version of the book.”
Roger Moore of Movie Nation called the movie “A clumsily-plotted murder mystery tucked into a geographically-inept/historically-dubious period piece wrapped up in a ‘surviving abuse’ bow, it’s so corny, slow, and dull that one barely notices how colorless and uninteresting the cast is.” Moore gave the film a 1.5 out of 4.
Kim Hughes of Original Cin wrote, “Though faithful to its source material, this filmic adaptation of Delia Owens’ smash novel fails to spark, with the story’s more improbable aspects glaring in the proverbial light of day.” Hughes gave the film a C score.
Siddhant Adlakha of IGN Movies said that the movie was “A mechanical period romance sandwiched between a dimensionless legal drama, Where The Crawdads Sing is only accidentally interesting if you know the controversy surrounding its author, Delia Owens.” Adlakha gave the film a 5 out of 10.
Steve Warner of In Review Online called the movie “ soap opera theatrics bathed in a golden hour glow that exists solely to entertain middle-aged women uninterested in such frivolities as depth or realism.”
Mattie Lucas of From The Front Row wrote, “For such a lurid tale of rural murder, it feels oddly careful and chaste, seemingly begging for more Tennessee Williams style southern gothic to counteract its more saccharine tendencies.” Lucas gave the film a 2.5 out of 4.
Were There Any Critics That Actually Liked The Film?
Ty Burr of Ty Burr’s Watch List wrote simply, “It is … acceptable.” Burr gave the film a 2 out of 4.
Lauren Bradshaw of Fangirl Freakout wrote, “If you manage expectations, Where The Crawdads Sing is an entertaining enough summer romance, with elements of a whodunit that may or may not surprise you in the final act. Daisy Edgar-Jones is phenomenal.” Bradshaw gave the film a C+.
Jim Judy of Screen It! wrote, “The actresses playing the protagonist do make you care about her and her plight, while cinematographer Polly Morgan certainly makes the marshy and swampy environs look beautifully inviting.” Judy gave the film a 5.5 out of 10.
Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “Daisy Edgar-Jones’ performance and the gorgeous imagery redeem a book adaptation that’s uneven and sometimes implausible.” Roeper gave the film a 3 out of 4.
Alex Bentley of CultureMap wrote, “From the perspective of someone who has not read the book, the story is extremely well told, containing multitudes thanks to its combination of genres and impressive characterization.”
However, Jocelyn Noveck of Associated Press wrote, “All the buzz and talent around a tale that’s sold more than 12 million copies can’t thoroughly mask a sometimes corny, often clunky script, even if most of the lines are delivered by Daisy Edgar-Jones.”
Mel Valentin of ScreenAnarchy added that the movie “Feels like there’s both too much story and not enough story to keep audiences fully engaged, suggesting perhaps that an adaptation of Owens’ novel would have been better suited to a streaming series than a theatrical release and a limited running time.”
Overall, it looks like the film failed to impress critics. Fans of the book might enjoy it, but those who aren’t intrigued by the trailer might be better off waiting for the movie to hit streaming and save themselves the price of a movie ticket.
At least it doesn’t cost anything to enjoy “Carolina,” which can be heard in the video below.