Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
|Featuring:||Youki Kudoh, Ethan Hawke, Rick Yune, Anthony Harrison, Max von Sydow|
|Producer:||Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall|
Universal Pictures is to be applauded for creating “Snow Falling on Cedars”, a thoughtful film containing little offensive material (some brief scenes of sensuality and language). Overall, a film that many Christians can appreciate for what it is.
“Snow Falling on Cedars” tells the story of a murder trial set in the 1950’s. It involves Kazuo Miyamoto (Rick Yume), who is now married to Hatsue (Youki Kudoh). To be found in this film is a tender retrospective love story between Ishmael Chambers (Ethan Hawke), son of a local newspaper editor and Hatsue Miyamoto before her marriage to Kazuo. Their story of past love (and present love from Ishmael) is told through flashbacks and well-crafted events that make more sense as the film progresses.
This is not your ordinary love triangle. A careful historical piece, this story examines the paths that prejudice can take in the setting of a small Pacific town still reeling from the effects of the Pearl Harbor bombing. Asians are persecuted; people are tragically being herded into internment camps. (Not everyone is aware of this piece of American history). The incidents shown are well-crafted and treated with tremendous dignity and respect.
Viewers will need to be patient as the plot unfolds. If you like quick and easily understood stories, “Snow Falling On Cedars” may not be for you. But if you like stories with strong values and aren’t afraid to let the plot unfold gradually, you will most likely love this film.
On the negative side, there are a couple of inferences to pre-marital sex. While I do not condone these actions, its placement in the storyline is not overdone. The hero in the end of the story does make some difficult decisions, in spite of the strong feelings he still has for Hatsue. There are also some disturbing war scenes.
I loved how the film handled friendship, loyalty, and the difficult issues of prejudice. How do we handle the delicate issues of discrimination? There is plenty to discuss with your teen in this multi-layered film. Sam Shephard, Max von Sydow, and James Rebhorn give strong performances. Overall, “Snow Falling on Cedars” is the mildest PG-13 film I have seen in a long time. I strongly recommend this film for teens and adults.