​Captivating mystery drama hits Chinese cinemas

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, November 25, 2022
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Sony Pictures' "Where the Crawdads Sing" is the latest foreign film to hit Chinese cinemas amid the COVID-19 pandemic, giving the cold film market some much-needed heat.

A still image from "Where the Crawdads Sing." [Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment]

The film is billed as the "world's highest-grossing romantic film of 2022." However, "Where the Crawdads Sing" is more of a mystery drama based on a bestselling novel by Delia Owens. With over 15 million copies sold in total, the book was a literary phenomenon and the bestselling book of 2019 and 2020. Moreover, it set a record for the most weeks at No. 1 on the New York Times hardcover fiction bestsellers list.

"I read the novel in one day. I just couldn't put it down," recalled Reese Witherspoon, an Academy Award-winning actress and a powerhouse producer. "I fell in love with Kya as the main character. The experiences she has with the two men in her life are both so touching but also terrifying. Delia Owens wrote this book with such authenticity; you could just tell she really grew up in this place."

The film tells the story of Kya, an abandoned girl who raised herself to adulthood in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" haunted Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community. Drawn to two young men from town, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world; but when one of them is found dead, she is immediately cast by the community as the main suspect. As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal the many secrets that lay within the marsh.

"Delia created a classic, timeless story with this book," said the film's director, Olivia Newman. " It is a romance, an underdog story, a murder mystery, a criminal trial, with a distinctive setting that lends to the drama and scope. We wanted to honor that with a faithful adaptation, and I'm so glad to have worked with this incredible team of women – the executives, the writer, the producers, and most heads of departments – who were meticulous in keeping the look and feel of the book that readers everywhere have embraced."

An all-female filmmaking team and a majority-female production crew were brought on board to adapt the novel into a film. "We have a focus on finding female filmmakers who bring a fresh perspective and stories that we've never seen on film," said Witherspoon. "For this film, these women built rich worlds focused on the very interpersonal connections of the characters."

"'Where the Crawdads Sing' is a filmmaker's dream come true of a story," said director Newman. "It has this incredible female heroine at the center of it that we've never seen on screen. She's vulnerable and emotional but also strong and resilient. And her story straddles multiple genres – there's this beautiful romance. There is a murder mystery. There is a survivalist tale. When I read the book and then the script, I thought it captured all these different worlds and elements of stories that I just couldn't wait to dig into as a filmmaker."

A poster for "Where the Crawdads Sing." [Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment]

"I think everybody resonates with Kya on a personal level. There's a little of Kya in all of us," Newman continued. "But I don't think we've ever seen a character quite like Kya on screen before, not in this way. 'Where the Crawdads Sing' is a story about resilience. It's about how love and human connection are core to our survival. It's a story about believing in your own self-worth when others do not. It's about survival and about how the laws of nature are not always the same as the laws of society."

Besides being about women's growth, the film has another attraction: megastar Taylor Swift, who was inspired to write and perform an original song, "Carolina," for the film. The song incorporates many of the haunting elements of the movie.

"Where the Crawdads Sing," starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson and David Strathairn, will hit Chinese screens on Nov. 25. It has already grossed $140 million in other markets around the world since July. 

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