This is a movie I watched twice prior to reading the book. It was a deliberate choice I made as I wanted to experience this unique adaption on the big screen for myself. For such a controversial film story which numerous critics did not enjoy, I found it to be an immersive and moving tale; one that I was glad Reese Witherspoon decided to produce.
What I liked about the film is that it spans across multiple genres: legal drama, thriller, romance, and a coming-of-age mystery. And it does so in an arguably profound way. For a lover of all things profound, I appreciated the ways the story was told in all the ways it could, as a movie, and with the admitted limitations of a movie.
Daisy Edgar Jones who played Kya, the derided ‘’Marsh girl’’, was engrossing as the reclusive loner, with her purity, burgeoning sensuality, and the seeming strength of conviction in her questionable innocence.
I believe the reason I was so drawn to a second viewing is the resemblance of inner child wounding that Kya experiences, with parents who both abandon her in different ways. In the context of counselling and therapy; Kya’s isolation and the absence of her family, also made her extremely self-reliant, and in tune with nature; as her life experiences forced her to be dependent on the provision of nature and being in sync with its elements. As well as this, the underlying tension and the atmosphere is in itself ‘dense;’ oscillating between a gentle, tender story of a delicate girl who transforms into a fiercely intelligent, sensitive, and persevering woman; plus, the harshness of the land and the people she resides with. Those who desperately misunderstand and underestimate her humanity.
Taylor Swift’s deftly written song specific for this film, ‘Carolina’ features the telling lyrics, ‘’Lost I was born, lonesome I came…’’ which describe the tone of the film, in which there is a great sense of loneliness throughout the entire (just over) 2 hours. Even the film’s voiceover is an effective device which adds to the solitude in which Kya lives. It is Kya’s indomitable spirit that is her strength.
Kya is irrevocably attracted to both male characters in the film/book, Tate and Chase, who pave the way for Kya’s growth and evolution as a human being; one in a positive, nurturing way, and the other, in the way that destructive ex-lovers maim us, yet teach us self-love and acceptance.
All in all, this is a deeply personal film story to me, which again demonstrates the undeniable power of filmmaking, and the relatability of specific human experiences to each of us as individuals on our own life journeys, and feeling our own pains and struggles. The resilience and resourcefulness of Kya’s character may evoke memories of our own crises and the ingenuity of our overcoming, truth-seeking, and defiance from external support, even when offered genuinely. As an ardent lover of nature, I also adore the cinematography of the marshlands she relies on, and her impenetrable relationship with It.
Personally, I didn’t enjoy the book much (a very individual experience and process) and actually preferred the film more (though of course it had its flaws, but when is anything of true perfection?) I wouldn’t call either a ‘masterpiece’, yet the story is understandably a bestseller and popular amongst audiences worldwide. The filmic characters are overall- intriguing, well cast (it has been said in several film critic reviews that Kya’s specific look in the film is not believable or sincere, and I agree to some extent, however Daisy’s acting is real and convincing enough). Her purity and intimacy remain childlike almost like the marshlands; untouched and open-hearted, even after her suffering.
As Kya says, ‘’Life persists.’’ And so does the authentic self, along with devoted, true love.
Despite ongoing pain, inevitable human hurt and even the trauma of abandonment; forgiveness can exist for those we love who wound us, and a radical compassion given to ourselves amidst the agony and chaos of living.
I give this film 4.5/5 stars. 😊
IF YOU WATCH THE FILM, CONSIDER THESE QUESTIONS (ones which I also asked myself):