Cinema: Snow Falling On Cedars

STARRING: Ethan Hawke, Youki Kudoh, Rick Yune, Max von Sydow DIRECTOR: Scott Hicks OPENS: limited Dec. 22; wide Jan. 7

Snow Falling On Cedars is essentially a liberal soap opera. Its simple, anti-prejudice message is hidden (in David Guterson's novel) behind dense thickets of rich, writerly prose and a narrative that moves large numbers of characters back and forth in time as it proceeds, in its leisurely way, to solve the murder mystery that serves as its none-too-robust pacemaker. Readers in the millions took the book seriously because Guterson was so serious about it, though it did not hurt that his...

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