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‘Where the Crawdads Sing’: Robin’s movie review

KUNR’s Movie Minutes takes a look at Where the Crawdads Sing, based on the bestselling book by Delia Owens.

A movie poster for 'Where the Crawdad's Sing' shows an illustration of a woman whose face blends up into a river where someone is traveling in a small boat.
Courtesy Sony Pictures
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Author Delia Owens came up with a great-sounding phrase for her book turned movie: Where the Crawdads Sing. I immediately imagined a shimmery bank of water reflecting a full moon and stars as a cute little lineup of crayfish opened their mouths in unison. And suddenly, my vision puffed away with a follow-up thought; do crawdads really sing? Pulling that all-knowing, insta-answer box from my pocket, I asked Google and received a prompt response. “Well,” read my phone, “sort of.” This relates to my feelings about the book and movie — do they ring true and do I like them? Well, sort of.

A mystery format drew me in as police find a body. Murder? They think so, and a trial quickly gets underway in a rural North Carolina fishing community, whose residents include the mysterious and isolated woman known as “marsh girl.” Shunned by locals, she seems a perfect scapegoat and an easy way to stamp “case closed” on the file.

Along with mystery, the story celebrates nature and a strong-willed woman who knows how to appreciate it. Such empowerment should make crawdads sing, but their melody gets muffled by elements lifted from other songs of the South like romances straight out of Nicholas Sparks or a good-hearted lawyer dressed in a white suit.

Clichéd but absorbing enough, events transfer to screen with sensible direction from Olivia Newman coordinating production logistics. Her cast lacks headliners aside from David Strathearn, one of those high-powered, whisky kind of actors whose surface hides surprising power. Newcomer Daisy Edgar-Jones holds her own, though rather than dialogue, much of her screen presence comes from narration and posing in pretty shots filmed in the captivating blend of water, plants and sky found on location in Louisiana, which steps in for the book’s North Carolina setting.

Easy to watch, the movie hums along without bursting into any rapturous chorus.

This review aired on KUNR FM on Friday, July 22.

Robin Holabird is KUNR’s entertainment reviewer, author, and former film commissioner for the Nevada Film Office. You can browse a full archive of her reviews here.

Robin Holabird reviews movies for KUNR, and her reviews have aired for more than 30 years. During that time, she has had a high profile in the Nevada film community.
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