Reviewed byHitchcocVote: 9/10/10
This is one of those films that needs to be seen a second time to pickup on the subtleties of the plot. It is a feast for the eyes andfeatures outstanding acting. It also has a sense of balance. It doesn'tmanipulate its viewer. The murder mystery isn't one that brings inforces that threaten the main character. The forces are prejudice andfear. The adversaries are not people carrying guns but rather the legalsystem that often overlooked the rights of people of another race orethnic background. The internment camps are part of the backdrop. Iknow that people say this is slow, but so is the process these peoplefaced.
I loved the intellectual character of the young man who has to lookpast his own feeling and try to bring closure to someone he will neverbe able to have. The transitions are so breathtaking. The winter scenesare a portrait of softness and violence. My wife had read the book uponwhich this is based and said that the movie might be interesting.Apparently, the producers were unwilling to go the extra mile to getthis noticed. It's a gem and deserves to be on a list of very finemovies.
Reviewed byChris_DockerVote: 9/10/10
Snow Falling on Cedars
Nominated for best cinematography, this film deserved to give AmericanBeauty a better run for its money. Sadly savaged by many critics, who seemedto fail to grasp the depth of the story and the beauty with which it wastold because they were too busy analyzing the parts. Snow Falling on Cedarsfollows a mixed race love that is complicated by the onset of war. Thereactions of the two principle characters betrays not only how human lovecan transcend itself into something greater but how those involved can findfulfillment in themselves through its sacrifice. The exquisite symbolism(you could write a book on the different things snow could symbolize afterwatching this) is never overplayed - in other words, the viewer can enjoythe film as entertainment without having "deeper meanings" rammed down theirthroat - but they are there in abundance, from the way the scenery isdeveloped to small details such as the main character's name ("Ishmael" -meaning "He whom God hears").
Reviewed bySteven ReynoldsVote: 9/10/10
Adapting this novel with its tricky, time-shifting narrative was alwaysgoing to be a big task, but Scott Hicks' sumptuous and elegant film verynearly pulls it off. Hicks and co-writer Ron Bass move quickly into thecourtroom and wisely use the trial to drive the plot, telling thebackstory - the real story in this case - through a finely-woven complex offlashbacks. The difficulty is that this story is a rich, long and emotionaltale which requires a fair degree of exposition for it to be satisfying.The screenplay is superbly economical in this regard, but there is noescaping the fact that the only way to cover so much ground in a film oftolerable length is to fly over it at 30,000 feet. The necessarily distanttreatment this requires occasionally dilutes the emotional force which wouldhave come from a more thorough and leisurely telling. Hicks strivesvaliantly to compensate with a powerfully emotive score - this works, but itdoesn't always hit the mark. Rather than engendering emotion, James NewtonHoward's musical is often so insistently overpowering that itlocks the audience out. On occasions I felt strangely alienated by a wallof sound when I knew I should have been in tears. But that's a minor flawin an otherwise excellent production. Overall, this is an intelligent andconsidered adaptation - probably the best that could be made from a novelwhich would have been incredibly difficult to bring to the screen. It'ssolidly acted, immaculately lit, and offers some of the most achinglybeautiful imagery to illuminate the screen in years (the opening shots aremagnificent). Most rewarding of all is the fact that Scott Hicks takes somereal stylistic risks with this film. They don't always pay off, but whenthey do it's magical.
It's 1950 on San Pedro Island in the American Pacific Northwest. Commercial fisher Carl Heine Jr.'s dead body is pulled out of the water in a fishing net by his crew, he who died of head trauma. Kazuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. Carl and Kazuo were once friends, had known each other since childhood, but WWII has placed a strain on any sort of relationship between the ethic Japanese and Caucasian populations of the area, the Japanese population which was and is still substantial on the island. Carl had motive regarding a land dispute between the two families, land which Carl's mother eventually sold from under the Miyamotos and which Carl had just repurchased. Evidence also points to Kazuo being on the water with Carl probably sometime during his last voyage, evidence which Kazuo knew would put him in a bad light, adding on top of being Japanese, and thus decided not to disclose to the investigating sheriff at the time he was questioned. Kazuo and his wife Hatsue's fear come ...