Olivia Newman makes her theatrical debut with this all for one, one feral period drama. Best-selling novelist Delia Owens is so eager to be the next Harper Lee, she might just as well have named this To Kill a Crawdad. One by one, starting with his wife, Pa Clark’s (Garret Dillahunt) family flees his abusive nest, until the last one standing is the youngest, Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones). Abandoned by dad, the young woman comes of age alone in the swampland of North Carolina, managing on her own until the day she’s accused of murdering the town jock. (Why the case ever came to trial is the story’s biggest mystery, seeing as how she has an airtight alibi.) What better setting is there for revisionist thinking than the deep South in the 1950s? It’s the tobacco capital of America, yet nary a butt is sparked. Apart from Tom Milton (David Strathairn, magnificent as always), the munificent counsel who agrees to defend the “marsh girl,” the only decent folk in town are grocers Mabel and Jumpin’ (Michael Hyatt and Sterling Macer Jr.), a black couple in the mold of what critic David Edelstein famously dubbed, “Magic Negros.” In place of a theatrical release, this Reese Witherspoon production deserved a Lifetime sentence. (2022) — Scott Marks
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