Snow Falling On Cedars (1999)

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When a Japanese-American fisherman is accused of murdering a childhood friend in the shadow of WWII, Ethan Hawke finds himself trapped in a crisis of conscience when he comes across possible evidence of his innocence.

This is a beautifully crafted, very literary period drama in which the courtroom scenes are intercut with flashbacks from the lives of the various protagonists to produce a rich tapestry of motives, prejudices and conflicts of interest that affect their actions. It’s beautifully shot in gorgeous snow-laden countryside, with a sensitive and pivotal performance by Youki Kudoh, while Max Von Sydow dominates the courtroom scenes in his inimitable style.

Snow Falling On Cedars is an intelligent, artful and mature film that intertwines stories of unrequited love, murder mystery, wartime and courtroom drama to nice – if not exactly groundbreaking – effect.

7/10

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