Tag Archives: Harris Dickinson

Marsh Mellow Girl

Where the Crawdads Sing

by George Wolf

“I had to do life alone. People don’t stay.”

Well-placed within a novel, those words could have major impact. But when you tell it to a movie audience, the power of your visual medium is wasted. You’re not showing us anything, you’re reading to us.

And like so many of these stories of a special girl who hides in plain sight, the big screen version of the Delia Owens bestseller Where the Crawdads Sing employs voiceover narration too early and too often. That’s disappointing, because the film does have its moments.

Most of those moments come from Daisy Edgar-Jones, who stars as Kya Clark, the “Marsh Girl” of Barkley Cove, NC who’s on trial in the late 1960s for the murder of local rich boy Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson).

Kya won’t agree to a plea deal, and throughout her defense from kindly lawyer Tom Milton (the always reliable David Strathairn), director Olivia Newman weaves in flashbacks of a reclusive young girl who grows up alone in the marshes, somehow emerging closer to Miss Carolina than Nell.

Overthinking it? Maybe, but seeing Beast of the Southern Wild screenwriter Lucy Alibar’s writing credit brings more attention to how often this self-reliance tale leans into fantasy. She and Newman sanitize the southern swamp song for convenience, replacing realistic grit with a makeover-in-waiting.

But if you haven’t read the book, there is a surprise or two in store, and a nuanced turn from Edgar-Jones (Fresh, TV’s Normal People and War of the Worlds) that stands out in a parade of broadly-brushed role players.

The lessons about classism and misogyny may be admirable, but they’re as obvious and as soft-peddled as the quick glimpses of racism and the idyllic marsh environment that’s somehow free of thunderstorms or bug bites.

Where the Crawdads Sing does Southern Gothic like Justin Beiber doing Delta blues. You’ll recognize the words and music, but any true feeling is bogged down by all the polish.

Two for One

The King’s Man

by Cat McAlpine

When Orlando Oxford’s (Ralph Fiennes) wife dies in front of him and his young son Conrad, his life is irrevocably changed. No longer is he a brave action taker. His life revolves around protecting his young son and respecting his wife’s dying wish. Naturally, this leaves an older Conrad (Harris Dickinson) desperate to prove himself as a man and meet danger at the front lines of WWI.

That’s the first five or so minutes of The King’s Man.

Director and co-writer Matthew Vaughn returns for his third entry in the franchise with something darker and sillier, plagued with tonal whiplash.

What made his first two Kingsman films so successful was their absurd violence, over-the-top villains, and classic spy premise. This prequel goes without those key elements for almost an hour. Instead, we get a tense father-son drama about how war calls to all young men.

The narrative of the first half of the film is punctuated with plot, plot, and more plot to explain the growing tensions leading to the world’s most gruesome war.

When the Oxfords decide their only hope is to assassinate Rasputin (Rhys Ifans), I laughed out loud. It’s the same absurdity that made the rest of the series so enjoyable, but the ensuing hijinks were at odds with the movie I’d been watching.

Most odd of all, The King’s Man’s two most disparate scenes are its best.

One features Ifans — fantastic as Rasputin, both horrifying and hilarious and perfectly suited to the series. In stark contrast is a night-time knife fight in no man’s land. Conrad’s experience at the war front is heart-wrenching and filled with equal parts hope and horror. Then Vaughn rips us right back into plot, plot, and more plot. Emotional arcs are completed with single, short scenes and we are finally delivered into the nonsensical action we expect, well into the film’s second hour.

With The King‘s Man, Vaughn has made two films. The first, a period war drama. The second, a Kingsman prequel. Both films are well done and enjoyable but squashed together they become difficult to keep up with.