Where the Crawdads Sing: the murder mystery at the center of Olivia Newman’s drama is just one more element of the overarching narrative, of the struggle of a young woman to survive in the marshes of the US South. While ultimately she becomes an interesting character, a smart and self-sufficient fighter, her journey there isn’t fully believable, and the film is rather dull and low-stakes, for the most part. It’s hard to shake the feeling that the adaptation skipped parts of the story, but the manageable run time begot an unexciting experience. The uneven acting doesn’t help; Daisy Edgar-Jones, who plays the protagonist in her early 20s, looks great on camera, but her performance is generally unimpressive. She still fares better than Taylor John Smith (her best and most important friend growing up) and Harris Dickinson (her sleazy boyfriend) are both wooden. At the other end of the spectrum, of course, is the very effective David Strathairn as the lawyer who defends her. Cinematographer Polly Morgan gives the film a golden hue typical of films for the nostalgia of the 1950s and 1960s. The film’s highlights are the beautiful drawings of natural elements created by the protagonist.