In the summer of 2018, Delia Owens released her debut novel titled Where The Crawdads Sing. She did not anticipate it, but this novel became a hit and was selected as September 2018 Reese’s Book Club pick. This best-selling novel also has been adapted into a film, which was released in July 2022 in America and September 2022 in Indonesia.
This film is interesting. This film has a peaceful and natural impression but contains an unusual story because it elevates the life of a marsh girl. Set in mid-century North Carolina, this film tells about Kya Clark, a teenage girl who was abandoned by her family as a child and now she is surviving alone in the wild.
Known as ‘Marsh Girl’, people around are avoiding her. Moreover, Kya is also suspected as a murderer of Chase Andrews who is also her ex-lover.
Kya is a very innocent girl. She does not really know where the good is and where the bad is. She has been living alone since six years old in a small-woody house on the outskirts of the marsh. She survives by selling the raw shellfish she hunts. I think she must be very lucky she can live well into her teens, considering she was abandoned and neglected since she was a child.
Since she lives in a marsh, to travel to other places, she needs to ride a boat. She often goes around to find new places with her boat. And there, she met Tate Walker. A boy with a nice, loving, and smart personality. From a very young age, he seeks to protect her and teach her. He is attentive to Kya for most of her life. It is easy for both of them to become friends since they have something in common, which is feathers.
Long story short, they fall in love and officially become a couple. Kya, who was uneducated and did not go to school since childhood, did not know how to read, write, and express her emotions well. There was Tate—her lover—who taught Kya everything that she had never learned.
Tate is a high school student and immediately or not he will go to university downtown to continue his education. He told Kya, that he needed her prayers so that he could be accepted at his dream university. Despite this, if he accepted, they need to go through a long-distance relationship.
Since then, their relationship has been strained. Kya is afraid that Tate will be attracted by the girl he will meet downtown, she is also afraid that Tate will not come back. However, Tate insisted that he will be loyal and will return in July.
Long day long, day by day, month by month. Finally, July—the most awaited day will come. She has been looking for the return day of Tate to the marsh. She becomes very excited that day, but what she has been waiting for never comes. Tate did not come.
She cried a lot. She really thought that Tate had found a new girl downtown. She felt betrayed. In the end, same as Kya’s family, Tate also abandoned her.
Even less, she felt empty.
There after a while, Kya met another boy. He is Chase Andrew. Chase is the golden boy of the town, a star quarterback, and I could say he has a highly different personality compared to Tate.
Chase started to approach Kya. He acted like he was attracted to Kya. When he gets closer to Kya, it’s clear that Chase is arrogant, self-absorbed, entitled, and not used to being told no. Moreover, though she doesn’t love Chase, she gets romantically involved with him against her better judgment because the other option is loneliness.
But, yeah. From the first interaction, Chase tried to take Kya, moving too sexually too quickly to scare her. Rather than seeing Kya as her person, he sees her as a rare possession that he desperately wants. Throughout their relationship, Chase became embroiled in an obsession with Kya, refusing to accept her rejection and determined to possess her like her collector.
Kya had been raped by Chase—her boyfriend. It was never a ‘love’ in the first place. As she matures, she begins to live in her personal power and accepts that being alone is better than being abused and fending off his pursuit. Knowing that Chase would constantly disturb her peace, invade her privacy, also stalk and hunt her until he overpowered her.
I want to criticize Chase’s character in this film, which we can say, he is an example of a toxic partner in a relationship. One, Chase is a condescending and demeaning type of person. Why do I assume like that, because he dismisses Kya’s talent with an offensive comment about her not getting too cocky. Second, Chase doesn’t respect Kya’s boundaries and makes her uncomfortable. This is clearly seen in the scenes in this film that show Chase has done a disrespectful manner without concern for her feelings, such as when he raped her. And third, Chase is just talk with no action. Also, most of his talk is a lie. Chase, from the beginning, expresses that he really likes Kya and that he sees a future with her. Though we discover later that this is all a lie because he is already engaged to someone else—a popular girl—downtown. All that I say, all his deeds just traumatized Kya.
So, what’s about Tate? Has he betrayed Kya as easily as that? Fortunately, after a long long time, after a very undesirable moment, he just came back. He still returned even though unwelcomed by Kya.
As time went by, Kya started to understand Tate. It was not Tate’s wish he didn’t come back that July. They are loving each other again. Tate taught Kya many new things. Realizing Kya’s extraordinary natural drawing talent, he recommended a publishing company to release Kya’s works. It was beyond their expectations, Kya’s work was widely enjoyed by the public.
That is what we call ‘love’ and ‘trustworthiness’. People who unlock a world of wonder and understanding for their lover and change the trajectory of their life to be better. In this way, people also invite their love into his/her world, and they share a love of the natural sciences for the rest of their lives. Just like how Tate loves Kya.
In my opinion, Where the Crawdads Sing is a superb film. The story is simple but intriguing. Director Olivia Newman has done an impeccable job adapting the source material which has become a worldwide phenomenon. The atmosphere of this film seems calm but tense. The emotional moments will make you tear up. The romantic elements are the highlight of the movie. The suspense is nail-biting, right till the very last scene.
Not to mention the beautiful visuals thanks to the natural scenery that is presented in this film. The cinematography by Polly Morgan is breathtaking & captures the gorgeous locales in all their glory. The main flaw is that the romance element is quite predictable. Daisy Edgar-Jones is spectacular as Kya Clark and Taylor John Smith is brilliant as Tate Walker. They have electrifying chemistry in all their scenes together. Harris Dickinson is outstanding as Chase Andrews. Also, all the support players have their best to make this film exquisite.
The popularity of this film also attracted a lot of attention by the presence of its soundtrack sung by top singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. The song is an original song written and performed by her, titled Carolina and it was used as snippets in the promotional trailers for the film. unique instrumentation creates haunting melodies that are directly inspired by the North Carolina marshlands, which is also the place setting for this film
Last but not least, this story indicates there is no love without tragedy. I mean, this so-called cliché sentence has a very deep meaning. People who truly love each other will be able to get back on track, with the trustworthiness they hold. But if it does not, it is just not.