Where the Crawdads Sing (10/10)
by Tony Medley
Sometimes, too rarely, you see a movie you know will stay with you forever. The Notebook (2004) was one such.
This movie is another. It grabbed me. From the outset. I was on the verge of tears throughout the first half hour. As the film progressed, I just kept getting deeper. And deeper. And more involved. Unaware of time passing, totally immersed by what I was seeing on the screen.
Everything about this film screams awards. Jojo Regina, who brilliantly plays little Kya, the protagonist, as a very young girl, grabs your heart strings for the first 20 minutes as six-year-old Kya is abandoned by her entire family except her brutal father, who eventually disappears, and must learn to live and survive alone. Then when she matures into a grownup illiterate 19-year-old Kya (known dismissively to the residents of Barkley Cove as “the Marsh Girl”), Daisy Edgar-Jones gives a bravura, Oscar®-quality performance as she carries the rest of the movie.
Filmed in areas around New Orleans, it’s an almost all-woman production, headed by Producers Reese Witherspoon, Betsy Danbury, Lauren Neustadter, and John Wu (OK, all aren’t female), director Olivia Newman, Delia Owens who wrote the best-selling novel and Lucy Alibar who wrote the screenplay, atmospheric-capturing cinematographer Polly Morgan, and Production Designer Sue Chan who created the exceptional tone of the time and place. There were some men, though. The all-important music is by Mychael Danna, and the film editor is Alan Edward Bell. I mention them all because they all deserve award recognition.
The ambience of the area is emphasized because instead of shooting on a sound stage at a studio, they built Kya’s house in the swamp and filmed it all there.
The supporting cast includes boyfriends Taylor John Smith and Harris Dickinson, along with attorney David Strathairn. All should qualify for nominations for best supporting actor but the one who stood out for me, slightly above the other two, is Dickinson, who has an appropriately devious look.
This has something for everyone. It’s a murder mystery wrapped in a thriller surrounded by romance. What progresses is believable and heart-wrenching.
I didn’t know anything about The Notebook when I went to see it and that made it more moving. As a result, I don’t like writing about great movies because I don’t want to spoil them for viewers and prefer that they see a movie cold, as I did and make up their own minds. This is, truly, a movie for all seasons.
Tony Medley is an attorney, columnist, and MPAA-accredited film critic whose reviews and articles may be read in several newspapers and at rottentomatoes.com, CWEB.com, Robinhoodnews.com, Movie Review Query Engine (mrqe.com), and at www.tonymedley.com. He is the author of four books, UCLA Basketball:The Real Story, Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed, the first book ever written on the interview for the interviewee, having sold over a half million copies, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bridge, which has sold over 100,000 copies. He is an American Contract Bridge League Silver Life Master and an ACBL accredited director. His newest book, “Learn to Play Bridge Like a Boss” is in stores, and available on Amazon.com.