The novel of the same name Delia Owens published in the fall of 2018, based on which the film was made, is one of the best-selling works of literature in recent years. By July 2022, as many as 15 million copies of the book “When the Crawdads Sing” had been sold, and it was clear that it was only a matter of time before it would see a film adaptation. And of course, when it comes to such a popular book in America and the film was quite successful, earning almost 118 million dollars on a budget of 24 million, and the script was written by Lucy Alibar, who already has experience with films set in the swampy areas of the American South. She co-wrote the acclaimed “Beasts of the Southern Wild” with Benho Zeitlin, and while there the action took place in Louisiana after a hurricane and flood, here the action is set in the swamplands of North Carolina.
The story begins in 1969 when two boys find the body of popular local American football player Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson). Although it seems that it was an accident and that the young man fell from the fire watchtower, the police will still bring in a girl who lives alone in the swamp, on the edge of civilization and rejected by society, Kyu (British Daisy Edgar – Jones, who started to make her way after a great role in the Irish series “Normal People”). She will immediately end up in pre-trial detention on the charge of murdering a young man with whom she was in a secret relationship, and her defense will be accepted by local lawyer Tom Milton (David Strathairn). And so we will follow two narrative lines until the end, which will merge over time. In one in the present, “When the Crawdads Sing” will be a court drama – a thriller, while in the other we follow the life story of a girl since she was abandoned by her family when she was a little girl, when she was left to live alone in a house in the swamp.
And this film was made in a somewhat old-fashioned style, following the classic American film, and although I have not and do not intend to read this book, it is obvious that today really anything and everything can deserve the status of a great American novel. The strongest advantage of the film is certainly the interesting location of the swamps of the American South and the atypical main character, a recluse from the swamp, who was well embodied by the young Daisy. But when we put all that aside, “When the Crawdads Sing” is a cliché-laden film, a poignant, emotional lemonade stand that feels like an exotic variation on the theme of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and similar works from the 1950s and 1960s. As expected, it is touching, emotional, and in the end, solidly executed, but just as it is probably the case that we have long since seen something that could be called a great American film, it seems to me that the situation is similar with a great American novel, and everything is there , unfortunately, it boils down to recycling recycling.