Where The Crawdads Sing, Sony Pictures’ luxury new movie, was badly beaten by critics.
The film is an adaptation of Delia Owens’ bestselling novel and stars Daisy Edgar-Jones, best known for her roles in Normal People and the horror Hulu Fresh.
Set in two timelines, the narrative first follows the life and adventures of a young girl named Kya as she grows up isolated in the North Carolina swamp from 1952 to 1969. The second timeline follows a murder investigation by Chase Andrews, a local celebrity from Barkley Cove, a fictional coastal town in North Carolina. Andrews is in a relationship with Kya, who is now 19 years old.
Jones plays Kya, with The Kings’ Man star Harris Dickinson playing Andrews. Olivia Newman, director of the acclaimed sports drama First Match, is at the helm, working from a script by Lucy Alibar, who has won plaudits for her script of Beasts Of The Southern Wild. Reese Witherspoon is among the film’s producers.
Where The Crawdads Sing hits US cinemas today (July 15th) with the UK release date arriving a week later on July 22nd. The film is a priority for Sony Pictures and was supported by a major marketing campaign. However, the money Sony threw in its latest film had no bearing on critics, who gave the film an absolute blast.
How bad are we talking?
Lots of one-and-a-half and two-star reviews, plus a 34% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, (opens in new tab) with many critics heading to town in the film.
Deadline’s Todd McCarthy (opens in new tab)was particularly difficult, calling the film “…a melodrama ripe for adaptation was squashed, juiceless, and otherwise shriveled into a massively unremarkable, flavorless mush”, while Robbie Colin of the Daily Telegraph (opens in new tab) put the boot on even stronger, calling Where The Crawdads Sing “a familiar, finger-licking bucket of fried southern bullshit” and wrote of Jones and Dickinson’s performances that neither of them “…dispel the general aura of feigned falsehood. “
Derek Smith from Slant (opens in new tab) called the film a “…extremely vapid and derivative affair”, while Barry Heartz of the Globe and Mail (opens in new tab)pronounced it “…neither moving nor thrilling, often resembling an enlarged version of a Hallmark movie of the week”. AO Scott of the New York Times (opens in new tab)was particularly scathing, writing that the “…temperature of the film is terribly mild, as if a play by Tennessee Williams had been sent to Nicholas Sparks for a rewrite”. There.
Jocelyn Noveck from Associated Press was equally scathing, writing that “All the buzz and flair surrounding a short story that has sold over 12 million copies cannot completely mask a sometimes cheesy, often clumsy script, even if most of the lines are delivered by Daisy. Edgar-Jones”, while Lovia Gyarkye of the Hollywood Reporter called the film “…the kind of tedious moral fantasy that fuels America’s misguided idealism”. Not ideal for a marketing campaign, is it?
However, there were good reviews among the pile of bad ones. Emily Zemler from Observer.com called the film “a strong and satisfying adaptation”, although he added that “…there will certainly be viewers who will find it trite or melodramatic”, and Owen Gleiberman from Variety wrote that Where The Crawdads Sing is “… a film about fighting male intransigence that has the courage of its spirit sticking out”.
Analysis: Will these revisions silence the crayfish?
They’re certainly not ideal, as Sony tries to convince busy, overheated potential viewers to avoid the sun and go to the movies.
If the movie had gone straight to a streaming service, a big splashy campaign and a rising star in Daisy Edgar-Jones could have been enough for a lot of people to give it a go. But dramas of this type tend to live or die by the hype that surrounds them.
Maybe the 12 million people who bought Delia Owens’ book are curious enough to go see it? Probably not, but it should enjoy another life when it comes to Netflix later this year.
Where the Crawdads Sing isn’t the only lavish drama to be criticized. Find out exactly what critics said about Netflix’s take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion in our review roundup.