“Where the Crawdads Sing,” the story of Kya Clark, took off in 2019 as a best-selling novel by Delia Owens. First dominating social media with the character of the mysterious “marsh girl,” the tale has now made it to the big screen. Taking viewers to the wilderness of North Carolina, the story follows young Kya through her earlier adult years. Abandoned by her family, the once illiterate young girl becomes a publicly praised scientific author without compromising her relationship with the land.
Following two separate timelines –– Kya’s childhood and “present day” 1969 –– the one main connection is the murder of former love interest Chase Andrews. When the mysterious murderer makes his way through the town, the people of Barkley Cove are quick to point a finger at Kya, the town outcast. Looking past her kind, quiet demeanor, authorities convict her. As she awaits trial, Tom Milton, a kind, sympathetic lawyer, draws out the story of Kya’s childhood in the wild.
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As the movie flashes back to the events leading up to her trial, viewers experience Kya’s connection to the townspeople and her life in the marsh. Her main connection is her childhood friend Tate, who helps her translate her love of nature into scientific language as the two fall in love. However, the theme of betrayal is strong in the events of the movie. First betrayed by her family, then by the two main love interests Tate and Chase, Kya struggles to maintain a reliable and meaningful connection. In the last quarter of the film, Kya’s true intentions and love for the marsh come to light, and she is found innocent by the jury.
While the movie is visually stunning, the film lacks a majority of the grit shown in the book. Instead of a haunting tale of a girl abandoned in the wilderness, the screen shows a more romantic version of a house filled with supplies and an oddly well-kept Kya, despite being in the middle of the wilderness. The paper version of the story is filled to the brim with struggle, trauma and drama. The movie, however, fails to show the true struggle of the main character. Although the movie didn’t live up to the full potential of the book, it isn’t an entire waste of a night.