‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ or — ‘Old Enough: the Movie’?
‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ (2022) is the tale of one person’s admirable bravery in the face of unbearable suffering and excruciating torment. That’s not me describing any of the characters in this movie but actually myself and the anguish I had to endure sitting through this god-awful piece of crap.
North Carolina, 1969, and the body of a young man is found in a swamp. Even though there is practically zero evidence to incriminate her the local police and entire town automatically call for the mysterious ‘Marsh Girl’, Kya, to be executed for the murder. As Kya awaits trial we skip back in time to witness the events that led to Kya becoming the Marsh Girl and why she might want to kill anyone.
Turns out Kya’s entire family left her all alone to survive in the swamp all by herself when she was only seven years old. She has no one to look after her and she doesn’t attend school due to the bullying she receives for living in a swamp and having no shoes. Fortunately she doesn’t need school because as everyone knows a crocodile infested, remote, treacherous marshland is the ideal environment to autodidactise yourself to the level of being a genius so, before long, Kya is one of the most highly intelligent, well dressed people you could imagine living in a powerless shack in a bog.
Kya is also fortunate in that this swamp must possess magical dental properties because despite never setting foot anywhere near a dentist Kya has some of the most spectacularly perfect teeth outside of a toothpaste commercial.
As Kya grows up she falls in love with a nice guy but then has her heart broken by the nice guy (although we never discover why) so she then falls in love with a bad guy (we know he’s bad because he drinks Budweiser and looks a bit, you know… bad). Anyway, the bad guy dies attempting to liberate a ‘Far Cry’ radio tower, Kya is flung in jail and a kindly Southern lawyer agrees to defend her (we know he is a kindly Southern lawyer because he dresses all in white).
What’s most infuriating about ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is that it tackles a load of important issues — murder, abuse, domestic violence, racism, shrimps, social exclusion, etc — but handles them all in such an insipid, skittish and fatally prim manner that any and all psychological and dramatic weight is not only lost but almost transformed into outright mockery (this is a film that inadvertently belittles its own themes with an excess of cinematic coquettishness). By pulling its punches it means that nothing of substance exists and because nothing is there all that is left is a vacuum… and a swamp.
The film also pulls that cheap trick of only revealing a vitally important piece of information about the murder case right at the end of the movie which radically alters the entire perception of the case and it’s infuriating, although if it had been revealed it earlier it would’ve just meant I’d have got furiously annoyed with the movie sooner rather than later.
As the film dragged to its conclusion I knew it wasn’t quite working for me because I found myself rocking back and forth in my seat with my head clasped in my hands and emitting low moaning noises. We then have this weird, tedious and frankly bizarre coda that is maybe meant to be possibly empowering but just made me think “Hang on! So she’s really a murderous maniac who somehow managed to wangle a book deal about crabs?!”
It’s not just that ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is flat-out boring but that it’s so deeply vapid, bland and bleached of any guts or oomph. It’s a seriously anaemic film but I guess that’s what happens if you consume nothing but grits.