Where the crayfish sing (15, 125 minutes)
Verdict: Tone-deaf adjustment
She will (15, 95 minutes)
Verdict: Stylish horror
Great and good novels, as we all know, undergo a perilous journey from print page to silver screen. The new Netflix version of Persuasion offers a wholesome lesson in how not to edit a book, and here comes another one. Where The Crawdads Sing turns a compelling and exciting story into a cinematic mush.
There were striking echoes of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Never a Bad Thing, in Delia Owens’ 2018 bestseller. But Olivia Newman’s photo systematically wastes all the virtues of the source material.
It could really be shown in film studies courses as an example of the pitfalls that directors and screenwriters must avoid. This movie dives to your waist in just about all of them.
English actress Daisy Edgar-Jones, who became so convincingly Irish in the TV hit Normal People, here takes on a whole new accent as Kya, who is abandoned by both parents in the 1950s and grows up for herself in the swamps off the coast of North Carolina. By the time she reached her teens, in the 1960s, the local townspeople have shunned her, viewed her as ferocious and contemptuously called her “swamp girl.”
Nevertheless, Kya meets the supernaturally kind and respectful Tate (Taylor John Smith), who gently teaches her to read and write. Together they are a sweet young dream, less Tate and Kya than Tate & Lyle.
Plus, Tate shares Kya’s love of nature, which she somehow turned into professorial-level knowledge of the birds and shellfish (a variety of which are popularly called crayfish) that live in the swamp.
English actress Daisy Edgar-Jones, who became so convincingly Irish in the TV hit Normal People, here takes on a whole new accent as Kya, who is abandoned by both parents in the 1950s and grows up for herself in the swamps of the North Carolina coast
Conveniently, she can also draw like Leonardo da Vinci. A trademark of admiration etched on his handsome features, Tate tells her she really should send her nature sketches to a publisher. And damn it if they don’t turn out to be exactly what the publishing world was waiting for.
Meanwhile, however, Tate heads to college, where his gigantic heart apparently no longer has room for Kya. So she takes it up with the town’s soccer hero, Chase (another Brit, Harris Dickinson), and while she may understand the inner workings of your average crustacean, she doesn’t see that it’s rotten to the bone.
All of this sends us tossed back and forth in time, between Kya’s burgeoning career, her romantic adventures, and a later murder trial in which she is the culprit. I think that gives you the story without too many spoilers. Anyway, the big spoilers all come courtesy of Newman and screenwriter Lucy Alibar, who don’t so much clean up the story as scrub the life out of it.
All of this sends us tossed back and forth in time, between Kya’s burgeoning career, her romantic adventures, and a later murder trial in which she is the culprit. I think that gives you the story without too many spoilers
I can’t say because she’s an interesting young actress, but much of the problem lies with Edgar-Jones. Worse than misplaced, she’s misdirected. This supposedly wild kid looks like she’s learned self-reliance by going to Waitrose every once in a while
I can’t say because she’s an interesting young actress, but much of the problem lies with Edgar-Jones. Worse than misplaced, she’s misdirected. This supposedly wild kid looks like she’s learned self-reliance by going to Waitrose every once in a while.
Every time the story calls for an unequivocal punch, it delivers a faint blow. Tate and Chase are little more than caricatures of good and evil, while Kya’s brave lawyer in the murder trial, played by David Straithairn, might as well be a hologram of Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch.
Classic movie on TV
To Catch a Thief (1955)
Maybe not one of Hitchcock’s best, but this romantic thriller is still unsurpassedly beautiful to watch, with the film’s trio of stars, Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and the French Riviera, all at their classy, elegant best.
BBC2, Saturday, 3.10pm
On the plus side there is some top cinematography; the wetlands of North Carolina have never looked so beautiful. But even that reinforces the vague feeling that if you stumbled out after two of the longer hours you’ll have to spend at the cinema this year, you’d have had just as much fun with an extended shampoo commercial.
She will also make the most of her remote location, in this case the Scottish Highlands. It’s a psychological horror story, decidedly light on fears, but anchored powerfully by a great Alice Krige protagonist.
As an indifferent high school dropout, I kind of fell in love with Krige when, in her film debut, she played Harold Abrahams’ beautiful actress girlfriend in Chariots Of Fire (1981). She’s a lot less lovable here, as the imperious former movie star Veronica Gent, recovering from a double mastectomy and struggling with her mental health, travels to a Scottish refuge with only her well-kept caretaker Desi (Kota Eberhardt, also excellent) for a barely tolerated company.
Upon arrival, she discovers to her dismay that the place is full of self-help groupies, led by a flamboyant seedy guru (a scene-stealer of a cameo for Rupert Everett). He wants his acolytes to bond with the earth (“don’t draw the landscape, let the landscape draw you”), but Veronica ends up connecting much more viscerally to it, evoking the ghosts of the young women who were burned there as witches three centuries earlier.
This newfound strength allows her to rectify a number of mistakes on behalf of the woman, not least with a film director (Malcolm McDowell) against whom she has a well-deserved complaint.
If you notice a whiff of #MeToo over all of this, you’re not wrong. Movies that take a sharp kick against the so-called patriarchy have practically become a genre in their own right. But Charlotte Colbert’s feature debut is stylish and Krige is sublime.
The day Our Lady of Paris went up in smoke
Just as many of us remember where we were when we first learned about the atrocities of 9/11 or Diana’s death, I can place myself exactly when, in April 2019, I learned that the mighty Gothic cathedral of Notre-Dame in was on fire.
After living in Paris for a year and visiting Notre-Dame many times, I was deeply shocked to think it would end up as smoldering rubble.
It didn’t, thankfully. But Jean-Jacques Annaud’s dramatized account of that traumatic 24 hours, Notre-Dame On Fire (★★★✩✩, 12A, 110 min.) attempts to capture the mounting horror as firefighters bravely fought to control the inferno and the priceless works of art and religious icons within. His film doesn’t quite succeed; some of the acting and dialogue are decidedly awkward. But the veteran French director, best known for English-language films such as The Name Of The Rose (1986) and Seven Years In Tibet (1997), deftly weaves the actual images of the fire into his drama, cleverly using split-screen scenes. techniques to create a documentary feeling.
Notre Dame de Paris cathedral on fire during a fire that destroyed the cathedral on April 15, 2019
He is also relentless in his portrayal of how deplorable security measures were and how disorderly the French authorities initially reacted. It’s hard to believe that the city’s fire chief was not alerted until about half an hour after the fire started – by a colleague on vacation, who had seen images from cell phones.
Prizefighter (★★✩✩✩, 107 min.) tells another true story: that of West Country blacksmith Jem Belcher (Matt Hookings, also the writer), who in 1800, just 19 years old, became the boxing champion of all England. became.
I wish I could recommend this movie, not least because Hookings himself is the son of a boxing champion, David “Bomber” Pearce, who, like Belcher, died young. It was clearly a labor of love.
But alas, it’s a terrible ham-fist affair; a patchwork of cliches and questionable dialogue, despite a fair number of stars in the form of Russell Crowe (as Jem’s tough old grandpa) and Ray Winstone, in his almost obligatory turn as gruff boxing trainer, only this time wearing a tricorn hat.
Notre-Dame On Fire is in theaters. Prizefighter is on Amazon Prime Video.