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  • Writer's pictureDenise Breen

Where The Crawdads Sing - is Kya Clark the new Tom Robinson?

3 out of 5

Unless you've been living under a rock for a few years you will have heard of, or have been one of the countless millions who read Delia Owens book "Where The Crawdads Sing". Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine production company and Sony Pictures bring the popular book to the big screen who tell us - "Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of Kya, an abandoned girl who raised herself to adulthood in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' haunted Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community. Drawn to two young men from town, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world; but when one of them is found dead, she is immediately cast by the community as the main suspect. As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what actually happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal the many secrets that lay within the marsh."

I know I've said it before and it's worth saying again, that in a world of comic book adaptations and sequels and prequels, it's lovely to see an original screenplay on the big screen, a chance to explore unseen worlds and characters. Having said that, while watching the film, I kept hearing and seeing echoes of the 1962 adaptation of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird". That's not a criticism. Both are good films. However both share common themes: the misunderstood outsider accused of murder and defended by a stalwart of the community, both doomed to be judged not by what they did but who they are.

Firstly, I have to say, this film is gorgeous to look at. Director of Photography, Polly Morgan (who filmed A Quiet Place Part II) has captured the warmth, colour and atmosphere of the locale. The colour palette is both vibrant and muted as required. The production design, the setting by Sue Chan, is wonderful. The house and the detail is excellent and worthy of awards.

Daisy Edgar Jones plays the central character for the majority of the film. She is mysterious, passionate, curious, vulnerable and yet strong when needed. She does an admirable job with the script. I've not read the book however some of the lines she delivers jar with the flow of dialogue sometimes as if Lucy Alibar (who adapted the book for the screen) wanted to shoe-horn in her favourite lines. Maybe it's just me. For a significant portion of the film, young Kya is played by Jojo Regina who, I have to say is simply marvellous and protrays Kya as a tough, no nonsense child, shaped by her experiences. She is a delight to watch. Her scenes with the shop owners (played by Michael Hyatt and Sterling Macer) are lovely and underplayed.

Playing the role of the retired lawyer who defends Kya is Gregory Peck, sorry David Strathairn who, for me is one of the stand-out performances. His quiet determination and reslience in his defence of Kya is well played. He is one of those reliable actors who exudes confidence on screen.

I've not spoken about the film itself. I've given is 3 out of 5 because I was engaged enough and cried at the right cues. However there was something about the film that left me unfulfilled. Was it the unresolved plot aout developers buying up property in the marsh or the ease with hich Kya had her books published? There were many unresolved or unsatisfying threads in teh plot. Add to that when the "bad boyfriend" appeared on screen, they almost played Darth Vader's theme such was the sign-posting that he was up to no good.

Overall, it was enjoyable. I think there may be a better adapation in the future but for now, it's a worthwhile addition to our current cinematic landscape.

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