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Word Count: 977
Four years after Shine Hicks returns with another tale of a man reflecting on and facing the consequences of the events of his childhood His film opens in the courtroom where we learn that Kazuo Miyamoto Rick Yune is on trial for the murder of Carl Heine Eric Thal A Stranger Among Us who was found drowned in his fishing nets with a bash to his head The two were boyhood friends who were forced apart when Carls mother reneged on a land sale made by her husband with Kazuos father As Ishmael watches the proceedings from a balcony seat were brought back in time to witness his passionate and forbidden love affair with Hatsue which was born in childhood friendship Snow Falling on Cedars is a tone poem of a movie all gorgeously photographed greenery shrouded by mists and snowfalls Instead of telling the story in a linear or even standard flashback method Hicks is constantly overlapping sound and images so that were often presented with glimpses of scenes that have yet to play out The end result is like an ode to memory and works beautifully in the assured hands of Hicks cinematographer Robert Richardson and edittor Hank Corwin both alumni of The Horse Whisperer Characterization is somewhat lost to imagery however although there are still some standouts in the cast One wouldnt be Ethan Hawke the ostensible lead whos really little more than an observer - his counterpoint as a young boy Reeve Carney sees more action in the film The same can be said of Youki Kudoh who mostly projects worry lines as Hatsue although again Ann Suzuki who portrays the young Hatsue is radiant Max von Sydow gives a strong performance as Nels Gudmundsson Miyamotos defense attorney and a decent man Max Wright of TVs Alf gives an amusingly contrary performance in a small role as the towns coroner Celia Weston Dead Man Walking embodies small mindedness and greed
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