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Hollywood Crawdads

The film version of Where the Crawdads Sing doesn’t live up to the book

Michele K Short/CTMG

Hollywood <em>Crawdads</em>
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Delia Owens’ best-selling novel Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of Kya, an abandoned child fending for herself in the marshes of North Carolina. WORLD’s 2021 review (see “Freedom calling,” Jan. 30, 2021) praised the book’s “lush nature writing” and “detailed portrait of small-town life.” Sadly, Hollywood’s version of Crawdads gives us little more than a flat, sanitized glimpse of a desolate life.

Instead of the novel’s lonely, wild, and beautiful creature, the Kya of the screen (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is too normal. Our wilderness-dwelling heroine should look haggard—bad teeth, uncombed hair, ill-fitting clothes. Instead, the movie Kya looks like she came straight out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. Rather than being either too scared or scarred to engage with anyone, she navigates romantic dalliances with men as easily as she does the marshy waterways.

When one of these men turns up dead, Kya’s naturally the suspect. The film flashes back and forth between her court trial and troubled backstory, and we learn one sad fact: Kya Clark isn’t very different from the townsfolk who keep their distance.

Three sex scenes and an attempted rape ratchet this movie well past its designated PG-13 rating. As they say, the book is better.

Juliana Chan Erikson Juliana is a correspondent and a member of WORLD's investigative unit, the Caleb Team. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Juliana resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area with her husband and 3 children.


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