Set in the 1950’s, the Clark family lived in a small house in Barkley Cove, North Carolina tucked away in the marshes away from most people. Pa (Garret Dillahunt) was obviously a very unhappy man and commonly took his anger out on Ma Clark (Ahna O’Reilly) and the children, the youngest being Kya (Jojo Regina). As Pa continued to beat the family one by one the family started to leave him but as for Kya, she was too young to leave. She learned how to live with her Pa by staying out of his way but sometimes he took her into town to get supplies at the local store run by Jumpin (Sterling Macer Jr.) and his wife Mabel (Michael Hyatt). They were both kind to the young girl that wore dirty clothes and no shoes and as Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) grew up they continued to be friends with her unlike the towns people.
When Kya was young, she had met a young boy on the water his name was Tate (Luke David Blumm) but Kya’s Pa was against her having any friends. Yet on the day her Pa disappeared just as the rest of her family did Kya grew up alone and learned to survive. As she matured, she turned into a beautiful young woman and eventually struck up a friendship with Tate (Taylor John Smith) once again who as her friend he became her tutor since she never went to school. Kya was truly one with the marsh and knew every bird, fish, insect, and shell and like her Ma once did she began to draw them all and study their behaviors.
As the relationship with Tate turned into more, they both fell in love but when Tate went away to college, he broke his promise to her to stay in touch and eventually return to her. Days became weeks, weeks became months and months became years which led Kya to start a relationship with Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson) the town wealthy and spoiled young man. Sometimes things are not what they seem and eventually Tate returned to marry Kya but she would not have it. Yet when Chase ends up dead in the marsh his family, the police and towns people point the finger at Kya. Even though life was getting better for Kya personally as she was able to sell her pictures and knowledge to a publishing company it did not stop the police from locking her in jail for the murder of Chase. Thankfully, Tom Milton (David Strathairn) a local retired lawyer decided to take her case and represent her in local court with a full jury of people that only knew her as some odd marsh girl from the woods. The big question though is if Kya committed a murder or was it someone else?
I loved this story and was latched into the characters right from the start. It was good to see a movie on the big screen that plays as if you’re reading a book. Brilliant direction and writing along with a perfect score and beautiful cinematography this movie is truly worth seeing on the big screen. The animals, the wilderness, the birds and the marsh life were all spectacular. It is odd how as a society we hate the one that is different but many times it turns out they are the nicest people!
Edgar-Jones was stellar and a joy to watch her as the story unfolds. Dillahunt was great always it seems playing a bad guy. I love Strathairn, he doesn’t disappoint nor does any one in this fascinating movie. You fall in love with Macer Jr. and Hyatt and Dickinson is also spot on but it is the love and the good looks of Smith that will have the women falling in love with him. I truly loved this film and I believe you all will too. Animals are everywhere in this story along with the beautiful world within the marshes.