THB #186: Where the Crawdads Sing
This film makes you wish it would at least deliver on its cliches.
For me, it never rises above this. In fact, it constantly dips below the line of basic expectations for the material.
I really like Daisy Edgar-Jones. I really like David Strathairn. I am an absolute fan of Garret Dillahunt. And I am an absolute sucker for an underdog, coming-of-age, make mistake and overcome potboiler.
But I was never able to maintain my suspension of disbelief for more than a few minutes without it being broken.
I will tell you what did make my heart sing here. And I don’t think it’s a spoiler. I’ve leave it at, it’s when she has some success. I gasped when a box showed up at the house. It got me.
But that was the only time.
You couldn’t write it or cast it or direct it less effectively much of the time. Abusive parent? Yeah… but not too much. Racism in rural North Carolina? Not really… but kinda… but the rich white kids of the 50s and early 60s take direction from a black man and women without a thought. Mom leaves… elder sibling leaves… another sibling leaves… where are all these suitcases coming from? And really, they never pay any attention to leaving their youngest sibling behind with a drunk? Not a word. Don’t worry… no hint of sexual abuse. Waiting on that big showdown where she comes of age and puts dad in his place. No… he just disappears. I get that she is getting help from the community, but when did she go from no shoes to a different outfit in every scene? A guy refuses her sexual advances as he heads to college? No, not gay. Drunken, abusive rich kid? Yeah, but she kinda loves him and even though he lies to her to give her the 2-pump-chump in a cheesy out of town hotel. Court case based on not a single piece of evidence… like not any proof of any kind that the accused was in the same city, much less the same place. Doesn’t matter.
The thing is, I am not a fan of cliches. But in this case, they would have been more believable than what there was.
I could have loved this movie.
A great director could have found the many subtle colors that were needed to make this work… to make it art. Lenny Abrahamson could have done it. God knows Lynne Ramsey could have done it. Pamela Adlon could have done it. Andrea Arnold. The late Jean-Marc Vallée. Sean Baker would have made it pulse with reality. Niki Caro.
But they hired a TV director and got Lucy Alibar, a screenwriter whose famous script (Beasts of the Southern Wild) was given life by a director steeped in the idea of making filmic poetry. It doesn’t work. At least not for me.
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