Season Catchup: ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’the Critics Choice – cpn

Being an Oscar completist means tracking down every title that may or may not get nominated, including the contenders for Best Original Song. In addition to nominations from the Critics Choice Association and the Golden Globes, Taylor Swift’s “Carolina” is officially on the Oscar shortlist. It’s the end credits song in Where the Crawdads Sing, based on the 2018 novel by Della Owens, a period trial drama with plenty of flashbacks and North Carolina drawls…

This film was released back in July, and I’ll admit that I didn’t quite know what it was about when I saw all the billboards promoting it. My experience of watching the absolutely phenomenal Daisy Edgar-Jones in Under the Banner of Heaven and the words “murder mystery” led me to the assumption that her character was the victim. Instead, she’s the prime suspect, and the story is much more about the ensuing trial, interspersed with her history as Kya, better known as the “Marsh Girl,” whom everyone in town believes must be incapable of basic social interactions.

Edgar-Jones, whose big international breakout was opposite the equally red-hot Paul Mescal in Hulu’s limited series Normal People, is seeing a major surge in her career right now, and it’s no surprise that she would be chosen to headline a film like this. But this film can’t make great use of her talents, giving her much less to work with than something like Fresh, though she does her best to infuse energy into a character who is clearly talented and intelligent but who suffers from discriminatory treatment by those who see her as inferior.

In a year of particularly long films, the 125-minute runtime of this one doesn’t come close to some of the lengthiest movies of 2022. Yet it still feels like one of them, dragging mostly due to the lack of plot to properly fulfill even two hours of screen time. Kya’s story simply isn’t that complex, and it feels as if there should be much more to it. Her refusal to offer up any support for her defense frustrates her attorney, Tom Milton (David Strathairn), and her reasons for staying silent are also far less dramatic and noteworthy than her resistance suggests.

Just as those who watch this film without preexisting knowledge of Edgar-Jones’ other roles won’t be able to perceive her true talent, there is another actor with a much more notable film this year who appears as Chase Andrews, a local sports hero who is indeed the murder victim. British actor Harris Dickinson puts on a Southern accent to play Andrews, but Andrews is vastly r less interesting than the ill-fated male model he plays in the radically different Triangle of Sadness. But, to be fair, Where the Crawdads Sing isn’t trying to be something groundbreaking or vibrantly fresh. It manages to be a mildly engaging watch whose best asset really is the mood-setting, Oscar-shortlisted end credits song. B-

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