As cities steam and suburbs stew, it’s refreshing to step deep into nature.
We can do that this overheated summer on PBS (especially Baratunde Thurston’s Appalachian journey, at 9 p.m. July 26) … on BBC America (with gorgeous nature marathons on Saturdays) … and now in movie theaters.
That’s the spot for “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which opened this past weekend to decent business. It lets us step into the wide-eyed life of someone consumed by natural beauty.
“Crawdads” was made for a modest budget ($24 million) and was expected to make only about $10 million in its first weekend (July 15-17) in the U.S. and Canada. Instead, it got $17 million.
That’s minor compared to superhero films and cartoons. That same weekend had the sequels for “Thor” ($47 million, making $234 million in 10 days) and “Minions” ($27 million, $263 million in 17 days).
Still, “Crawdads” is bringing people back into theaters. At the afternoon showing I caught, two different groups included someone using a walker; I can’t remember the last time someone used a walker to get to a superhero film.
This starts with the 2018 novel by conservationist Delia Owens. The story of a lonely “marsh girl” and her keen eye for wildlife has spent three years on best-seller lists. It has sold 12 million copies, putting it a tad ahead of (among others) “Catch-22,” “The Cat in the Hat” and “The Joy of Sex.”
Two of the book’s biggest fans got involved: Reese Witherspoon put it in her book club and produced the movie; Taylor Swift wrote and sang the haunting song at the end.
Daisy Edgar-Jones, an English actress who played complex characters in “Normal People” and “Under the Banner of Heaven,” stars as Kya, with David Strathairn as her gentle lawyer.
Otherwise, this is a film filled with unknowns. We’re here to root for Edgar-Jones (who is terrific) and to savor her Louisiana world.
Like many films. “Crawdads” only gives depth to one gender. The guys are mostly one-dimensional, saints or creeps. The one exception is Tate and his one failure feels like a forced plot convenience.
Still, this isn’t about the guys. On a steamy summer day, we savor Kya and her natural world. I liked the movie and I’m not in a book club … nor, for that matter, do I have any idea what a crawdad is.