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Marsh King’s Daughter–A Companion Piece to Where the Crawdads Sing?

In this mystery thriller based on Karen Dionne’s novel of the same name, we see a story taking place  in a swamp with a young girl and her mother trapped by an abusive father.   The Marsh King’s Daughter opens with the ten-year old Helena [Brooklyn Prince of Florida” (November 7, 2017 review )] in the woods with her father (Ben Mendelsohn of “Bloodline”), having a lesson in survival skills.  Helena is shown how to hunt and  skin wild animals as well as  how to interpret animal tracks.  All of these skills will prove invaluable later on.  What the viewer is witnessing is a very, very close relationship between a little girl and her father, while her mother is somewhat estranged from them with no reason given.

Fast forward decades later and Helena (Daisy Ridley of “Star Wars: Episode VII“) is now an adult with a loving husband, Stephen [Garrett Hedland of Mudbound (November 27, 2017 review)] and a daughter, Marigold (Joey Carson) about the same age as she was in the earlier flashbacks.  Her husband and daughter know nothing of her survival training or of her parents, whom she claims are dead.  Slowly, her past is revealed and the secret life she had lived comes to a haunting of enormous consequences for her and her family. Helena also has to reset her views of her parents.  Her childhood perspective has to shift radically, partly for her own identity but also for the family she has created herself.

Diving deep into the inevitable transition from a child’s view of her father and mother to that of an adult and mother herself, Helena’s world turns upside down.   The power of each parent means untold secrets.  Now Helena, as a full-fledged adult, must manage to demonstrate how she knows what is best for her own family.  

Marsh King’s Daughter has enough surprises to keep the viewer’s interest.  All the actors are excellent:  Daisy Ridley, Ben Mendelsohn, Brooklyn Prince, and the supporting actors as well.  While Marsh King’s Daughter does not rise to the unforgettable and has some startling character missteps (e.g. Helena not confiding in  her husband about her pending danger).  However, this film is definitely entertaining, and investing time to watch Marsh King’s Daughter should prove rewarding.  

Availability: Hulu

Note:  The novel has a more sympathetic Helena, who is not so flummoxed by the choices she has to make.  The character arc is more compelling but the film is, overall, a good cinematic adaptation.

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