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Ethan Hawke stars in this "riveting tale of mystery" (FOX-TV) based on the award-winning best-selling novel. A murder trial has upset the quiet community of San Piedro, and now this tranquil village has become the center of controversy. For Ishamael Chambers (Hawke), a local reporter, the trial strikes a deep emotional chord when he finds his ex-lover is linked to the case. As he investigates the killing, he uncovers some startling clues that lead him to a shocking discovery. Co-starring James Cromwell, Sam Shepard and Max Von Sydow, Snow Falling on Cedars is "hypnotic, mesmerizing and inspiring" (ABC-TV).
Australian director Scott Hicks's follow-up to his widely beloved Shine comes as a small shock. Based on David Guterson's bestselling novel, Snow Falling on Cedars is far removed from the character-driven, pure storytelling of Shine and a comparative plunge into moody atmospherics. Action insinuates itself through the director's determined eye for watercolor composition and free-floating perspective, like random shoots of new growth in an overwhelming rain forest. It's impossible to be complacent as a viewer because Hicks's meditative style paradoxically forces one to locate and make the story happen internally.
The approach makes good aesthetic sense in that Guterson's story couches courtroom drama in dreamy textures, and Hicks is determined to reflect that even if it means turning an audience's idea of narrative on its head. He also gets a lot of help from the weather in the Pacific Northwest: the setting is one of Washington State's San Juan Islands, where rain embraces earth and sky in a singular, introverted personality. There, a Japanese American war hero (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) stands accused of murdering a white fisherman in the years following World War II. His wife (Youki Kudoh) is the former childhood sweetheart and lover of a local newspaperman (Ethan Hawke) whose bitterness over the loss--as well as his helplessness during the internment of Japanese Americans, and the crusading legacy of his journalist father (Sam Shepard)--prevents him from coming to the defense of the accused man.
Layered emotions, layered sensations, layered clouds. This is historical fiction of a sort that works best as an experience of time's relativity: flowing, stopping, trickling. Ironically, the film's most commercial element, the trial, is the least interesting aspect, though old pro Max Von Sydow makes those scenes great fun as a wily defense counsel. --Tom Keogh
very, very good movie. really enjoyed it. Not disappointed at all with the choice I've made . Love conquer everythingPublished 20 months ago by Terry D'Astous
Hi, I just finished watching SFOC and I thought it was amazing. Why do the critics fawn all over horrible movies and blast good ones? I guess we'll never know. Read morePublished on Dec 2 2003
'Snow Falling on cedars' -adapted from David Guterson's novel- is about a murder trial, about racism and about a love that couldn't last. Read morePublished on Aug. 23 2003 by Pieter de Rooij
It is encouraging that in a growing number of ways, Americans are looking back and doing some self-criticism on issues like social and racial discrimination. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2003 by Dude
Naturally, a movie is rarely as good as the novel, and Snow Falling on Cedars doesn't break this guideline. Read morePublished on July 3 2003 by Susan
It's not a bad film and is to be commended for powerfully capturing the forcing of Americans of Japanese descent into crudely made, wooden shacks in the middle of deserts or dry... Read morePublished on July 1 2003 by Miami Nights
One of the better grownup films lately; good drama, well acted, gorgeous cinema and music. A somewhat plodding pace but the rich cinematography helps a lot. Read morePublished on June 30 2003 by DWPC