Don’t judge a book by its cover.
My sister and mother adore Delia Owens’ book “Where the Crawdads Sing,” and they’ve been telling me about the new movie version for months now. I told my sister I felt like a jerk for not being a bookworm like her, and she assured me: “I like reading and you like going to the movies. I just read for fun, like you enjoy going to the movies.” I’m not a jerk; I’m just not into books as I am into movies. And I apologize to you all.
But the good news is the movie version is a solid piece of entertainment. I mean, it’s not deeply profound in terms of Lucy Alibar’s screenplay of what direction the story heads off into, but it is profound in the acting from the cast.
The story, set in North Carolina between 1952 and 1969, is about a girl, who would have had a happy life with her kind mother (Ahna O’Reilly) and siblings, if it wasn’t for her abusive father (Garret Dillahunt), who scared them off, one by one. The girl named Catherine Danielle Clark-nicknamed Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones from “Fresh”)-has stayed behind in the marshlands, where she has learned to fend for herself and draw pictures of the birds, bugs, and plants that reside there, especially the shells and feathers.
Ever since she’s been on her own, the people in town, label her an outcast by the name of Marsh Girl. In all my years of seeing people being labeled as bad influences or troublemakers or outcasts, I blame the parents who abandon or mistreat them. The kids have so much potential, and they can prove they’re more than meets the eye. Besides you can’t judge a person by who their parents are.
Because of this, she’s been accused of murdering one of her suitors, Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson). Now, she’s on trial for her life, and we’re given flashbacks about how she dealt with her two romances. The first guy is Tate Walker (Taylor John Smith), who teaches her how to read and inspires her to publish her drawings, but he has to leave her for college. And the second guys is Chase, who seems like a nice guy at first, but turns out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
But not everyone in town is mean to her. Beside Hunter, there’s also the good-natured shopkeepers Mabel (Michael Hyatt) and Jumpin’ (Sterling Macer, Jr.), who buy the fresh mussels she digs, and the lawyer Tom Milton (David Strathairn), who defends her in court.
“Where the Crawdads Sing” is directed by Olivia Newman and produced by Reese Witherspoon, both of whom put their passion and commitment to the story. It may not resonate with you the way the book has for you, but it still keeps you watching with how the actors portray their characters in sincere and emotional ways. The movie reminded me of my days when I was just watching movies for what they are without worrying about the reviews. It’s a movie that you would see with your friends and relatives, who have read the book, and even if they didn’t, they’re still able to see the true colors of it.
“The Notebook” got mixed reviews, but it still won us over, unlike most of Nicholas Sparks’ novel-turned-films. “Where the Crawdads Sing” (remember Delia Owens wrote the book) wins us over, because of Edgar-Jones, who is beginning to put herself out there, and provides the character with her reserved and complex state. And it’s also because of the supporting actors-particularly Smith, Dickinson and Strathairn-who all keep her character in check. They all acknowledge the story’s message about judging people by where they live and why they act the way they do.
The movie may have its flaws, but it manages to thrive on them, as we see the directions and actors who adapt. I, myself, had a nice little trip down its view of the marshes of North Carolina.