Where i Watched It: Netflix
English Audio Description provided By: Media Access Group
Narrated By: Michael Bove
It might seem like I should have reviewed this film a while ago, and you’d be right. It was released theatrically in July, and it was that moment that prompted me to go “Hey, i should knock this book out before it hits streaming.” That didn’t happen right away, I needed a few extra weeks, and here we are. of course, I also broke the cardinal sin of enjoying film… never read the book.
The book is never as good as the movie, and in this case, even when I give concessions and liberties to the filmmaker, I still see the problems. This isn’t quite how I’ve felt about past adaptations where I questioned if the person even read the book, but I’m convinced that forcing this to come in under two hours was a mistake. It ends up feeling like a greatest hits of the novel, where no character, moment, concept, or theme get the opportunity to actually permeate in such a way through this paper thin script for any of it to matter. It ends up feeling like one of those TV movies from back in the day, when Hallmark used to not have a channel, but just did movies of the week for CBS, based on popular novels. Sure, every once in a while we got a Tuesdays With Morrie featuring hank Azaria and Jack Lemmon, but most of the time we got stuff like this.
Daisy Edgar Jones actually isn’t very good in this. Going after a British actress to play a swamp person likely was a huge step in the wrong direction, and following it up with more “outside the box” casting like Harris Dickenson didn’t really help. Honestly, the strongest performances came from two people doing what they do best. David Strathairn is playing his soft spoken type as the defense attorney, and Garret Dillahunt appears briefly as an abusive and angry veteran with a drinking problem.
But Jones never seems right in her role. For a girl that only ever attends one day of school in her life, and only learns things from her uneducated father, fellow swamp lover Tate, and a pile of books, her accent is bullshit. Jodie Foster has a stronger accent just playing Clarice Starling, someone who actually went and got an education. Remember, Jones’s character lives in a cabin by herself in a swamp, learning about swamp life. The idea that her drawl would be anywhere a clean as jones makes it is ridiculous. Lindsay Graham has more of an accent, and he’s a Senator.
I have tried to separate my feelings about the novel, and my feelings about the film. Honestly, I think two hours was part of the problem, casting was a big issue, and trying to make this some movie-of-the-week made it a waste of time.
The audio description at times seems fine, but even the narrator is working against me having read this descriptive text prior to the film. So, for a book that finds such beauty in an area that most people consider to be trash, I expected that to come through more. It’s possible the director missed that mark as well, and there isn’t enough focus on that titular place. however, I despise movies that feel the need to try and cram that title in awkwardly, an this one does it twice.
My first review for my YouTube channel tried to be nicer and give this a C, acknowledging that i might not like this because i read the book, and others may like it who didn’t read the book. but truthfully, that grade is bullshit, because it didn’t reflect how I felt, nor does it even project how I think you might feel.
Really, I just need to grade as I enjoyed it, and be honest that I came from the perspective of having read the book. So, take this as you will. But, if you red the book, I don’t see how you could possibly think this was a successful adaptation.
Final Grade: D+