Whether you were a fan of the film or not, Where the Crawdads Sing was one of 2022’s under-the-radar successes. The film has legged out to the tune of $122 million worldwide to date — $87 million domestic — which feels like a rarity for a PG-13 drama in the franchise climate we live in. In fact, the film never took harder than a 40% drop during its weekend-to-weekend grosses; and that was in its second weekend. Perhaps you could chalk it up to the fact that Crawdads is based on Delia Owens’ 2018 book of the same name and had some sort of built-in fanbase, but when does a PG-13 drama make an impression on the box office? Crazily enough, only Elvis ($150 million domestic) and The Lost City ($105 million) have grossed more as a PG-13 film in 2022 that isn’t a sequel or prequel. But as a film, it had a large disconnect in its critics and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes. The film holds a brutal 34% approval rating from critics but a more than crowd-pleasing 96% approval rating from audiences. But to play devil’s advocate to the critics that seemingly hated this movie, I wanted to do an appreciation post for the film that’s still in theaters — the film earned over $1 million in its ninth weekend — but was also released on Blu-ray and DVD this past week. So, without further ado, here are some reasons to watch Crawdads.
In case you haven’t a clue what Crawdads is about, the story follows Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones), an abandoned girl left with no choice but to raise herself tucked away in the marshes of North Caroline. When a former love interest is found dead, she becomes the prime suspect and is placed on trial for murder.
Academy Award winner Mychael Danna’s score is phenomenal. Full disclosure, I’m slightly biased as interviewing him is what piqued my interest to see the film in the first place. I first interviewed him for Below the Line during Emmys season with his Lost in Space co-composer, Harry Gregson-Williams. His co-composer waxed poetically about Danna’s score for Crawdads — a film I had missed the press screenings of — and I had to check it out for myself. I fell in love with the score so much so that I actually interviewed Danna again for Coastal House Media shortly after and was able to solely focus on his score for this film. I recommend checking out that interview if you’re at all interested in music and want to have a greater appreciation for the craft.
From the literal opening seconds of Crawdads, Danna’s score swoops in. The instrumentation varies throughout the album; similarly to how the settings change throughout. The film opens while showing the North Carolina marshes. This is where you get a taste of the seashells that Danna uses in his score. When we get closer to town, however, Americana twang takes over with Danna using a banjo sporadically throughout pieces in the score. It’s a subtle change, sure, but I guarantee that you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the score if you listen out for it.
Danna’s score is actually my go-to now when it comes to a score that I will listen to while writing. It’s in constant rotation with some of Joe Hisaishi’s Studio Ghibli scores and if you just want to sample the score, I recommend the tracks “They Called Me Kya” for the Americana influence and “The Marsh Girl” to transport yourself into the marshes.
One of 2022’s breakout stars has been Daisey Edgar-Jones. The 24-year-old British actress has just three film acting credits to her name but a number of TV credits. Two of those three film credits came in 2022 with Fresh, a black comedy thriller where she shared the screen with Sebastian Stan. She plays Kya in Crawdads, and the film is placed right on her shoulders even more so than Fresh.
Due to her upbringing and childhood, Kya’s like a turtle yet to come out of its shell. It’s not that she hasn’t tried, but her efforts were met with bullying and the nickname, “The Marsh Girl.” Edgar-Jones conveys the naivety of Kya to a tee. There is a wholesome quality that wins you over instantly and is impossible to root against, or in the case of Crawdads, believe she committed the crime she’s on trial for.
The set design
The set design goes hand-in-hand with Crawdad’s score. The score helps nail home the setting that the sets take place in while the sets accurately represent the time period and location they are in. Kya’s house, the Madison’s country store, and of course, the marshes are all stellar. To my knowledge, the film wasn’t shot in North Carolina — or at least a majority of it wasn’t — making it all the more impressive that they recreated the atmosphere and aesthetic so well.
A couple of nitpicks
While it may seem that I’m waxing poetically about Crawdads — and I do really enjoy the film — it’s not without its flaws. Speaking to someone who has read the book, the film is a true adaptation with very few changes. I’m still interested in reading Owens’ book, but the outcome was never in question for me. That’s not inherently detrimental to the success of the film, but the film takes the long way there — almost as if Kya walked to the Madison’s store instead of taking her motor boat — and the suspense was all but gone by the end. Despite that being the biggest issue I still have with the film to this day, Crawdads is a bit like some good old-fashioned Southern comfort food. Even if the plot’s lacking, the vibe of the film never ceases to grip me and take me into the world.
I’m not advocating that director Olivia Newman should have just taken all of the creative liberties imaginable, but the story feels outdated and unnuanced, frankly.
Why buy the Blu-ray?
To wrap it all up in a neat bow, Crawdads is worth the investment for those who want a peek behind the camera. The special features include deleted scenes, but the featurettes on adapting the book and creating the world make for informative viewings that’ll likely leave you with a greater appreciation for the film. And for any Swifties out there that couldn’t get into the TIFF premiere of All Too Well, the Crawdads Blu-ray includes a lyric video for the song she wrote for the film, “Carolina.”
Check out the full list of special features below:
- Adapting a Phenomenon: Explore the journey of bringing the best-selling novel to life as told by the cast and filmmakers of Where The Crawdads Sing.
- Creating the World: When a book is as beloved as Where The Crawdads Sing, the details of
- the world are everything. Hear firsthand from the designers and artists that translated those images to the screen.
- Women in Focus: From its captivating central character, Kya, crafted by author Delia Owens to the incredible team of women at the helm of the film adaptation, this piece is a testament to the strength, determination and resilience of women both onscreen and behind the scenes.
- 14 Deleted & Extended Scenes: See more of the marsh, mystery and magic in this collection
- of deleted and extended scenes.
- Lyric Video: “Carolina” by Taylor Swift
Where the Crawdads Sing is still in theaters now but you can also buy the Blu-ray, DVD or digital editions. For more information, click here.