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Movie Reviews

Snow Falling On Cedars  

Ishmael Chambers (Ethan Hawke)
Hatsue Miyamoto (Youki Kudoh)
Kazuo Miyamoto (Rick Yune)
Nels Gudmundson (Max Von Sydow)
Art Chambers (Sam Shepard)
Judge Fielding (James Cromwell)
Directed by Scott Hicks Written by David Guterson
Rated PG-13 for disturbing war images, sensuality and language
Running Time: 127 minutes Distributed by Universal


Snow Falling on Cedars is a pretty movie, but not a good movie. The film takes place on a Pacific Northwest island during winter in 1950. Kazuo Miyamoto (Yune) is standing trial for the murder of a local fisherman. The case first looks like a straight cold-blooded homicide. However, Ishmael Chambers (Hawke), a local journalist, begins piecing together a puzzle to prove Miyamoto's innocence. But as the trial unfolds, the simple story of the fisherman's death unravels into a deep haunting mystery, a tale about power, hate and a unique childhood love between Ishmael and Miyamoto's wife, Hatsue (Kudoh).

Snow Falling on Cedars is an extraordinary visual film, but overall the movie is terrible. The film drags its way to the credits with many complicating elements.

Director Scott Hicks was so in love with visual aspects of the film that he actually forgot about the story, performance and the production. Hicks is the established director of Shine, but he crumbles with Snow Falling on Cedars. I admit the film is beautiful, but scenery does not make it a good film.

Max Von Sydow is the only brightspot in the cast. Sydow performs with great characterization and development as Miyamoto's cough-a-minute lawyer. As for the rest of the acting, an ensemble was never close to created. A few examples are Ethan Hawke and Youki Kudoh. Hawke is very dull as the smart journalist Ishmael, and Kudoh is lost as the accused's emotional wife Hatsue. However, I do like Ethan Hawke as an actor and I believe he will bounce back from this weak performance.

The script for Snow Falling on Cedars is written pretty badly by David Guterson. Guterson based the script off of the internationally acclaimed novel of the same name. The script is full of two many consequences and subplots. Also, I honestly found the writing very loose and boring.

I believe that Snow Falling on Cedars will do poorly at the box office. The film reminded me a lot of last year's great visual-weak story film The Thin Red Line. As I said before, the movie is pretty and that is it.

Report Card Grade: D

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