Yet, despite spending a “stinky-hot” decade (as Owens calls it) foraging for food, there is not a bead of sweat on lead actress Daisy Edgar-Jones.
Is there really a link between trauma and dry armpits? Or is this sanitised romance as implausible as that Newsnight interview? Thankfully, Owens’s time-hopping story still grips. The whodunnit kicks off in 1969 as the body of a local lothario is discovered in the marshes.
Bar room gossip leads local cops to a supposedly feral young temptress known as “the Marsh Girl”. Kya was abandoned by her family at the age of six and grew up alone in poverty in a ramshackle hut.
After collaring the delicate and sparkling clean Marsh Girl in what looks like her Airbnb-ready waterside retreat, the cops throw her in the cells and charge her with murder.
Stepping out of retirement, local Atticus Finch lawyer (David Strathairn) arrives to hear her side of the story. As the trial approaches, flashbacks tell of the disappearance of a violent father, and a plucky six-year-old who survived by listening to the rhythms of the natural world.
A touching teenage romance with too-good-to-be-true dreamboat Tate Walker (Taylor John Smith) ends when he heads to university, leaving Kya at the mercy of clearly-a-wrong-un hunk Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson).
Talented British actress Edgar-Jones is compelling, showing us the vulnerability of Owens’s steely heroine. But the writer’s gritty themes are lost in a swamp of gorgeous cinematography and soapy plotting.
Where the Crawdads Sing is in cinemas now (certificate 15).