Probably a good story,
waiting to come out. But the flashbacks and editing effects wipe
out any chance of figuring it out. Basically the acting was good,
and so was the directing. As far as I can tell, the writing was
pretty good, too. There were a few moments where I was afraid they
would degenerate into standard courtroom banter, but I was relieved when
it was avoided.
The music was obviously made to hide the true meanings behind
all the scenes. There were few scenes where I felt that something
ominous was about to happen, but it never did.
A local fisherman is found dead, and a Japanese man is accused
of the murder. All the events in the courtroom seem to fit the prosecution's
story. His history showed that he lost all the land his family had
been promised, when he was moved to a "community camp" after the bombing
of Pearl Harbor, with the rest of the Japanese Americans. Years later,
he is married, and wants to buy the land back. The man who now owns
it was his friend when they were young, but the relationship is now very
strained. It is very possible that he could have committed the murder.
The local reporter, who is the son of the man who previously
owned the local paper, is on hand to view the proceedings. But there
is more to it than that. He and the Japanese man's wife were once
lovers, back when they were teens, before she and her family were moved
to the same camp near Seattle.
At the camp, she realized that they have to move on, and that
she needs the company of a Japanese man. So she gets married, and
our reporter feels spurned. It is during this flashback scene that
the echoes of the edit seem to fit. They don't fit anywhere else.
The big crisis arrives when he is doing some research at the
lighthouse, and discovers that a large freighter veered off course near
the dead man's position, at exactly the same time. He almost burns
this information, knowing that the husband will be put in prison for a
long, long time. In a convoluted way, he might have a second chance
with the girl.
Finally, though it's no surprise, he tells the sheriff.
It is almost too late, as the jury has been sent to chambers. They
investigate, and of course, it turns out to be an accident. I doubt
they will get their land, but she seems to forgive him, and he forgives
If it wasn't for the flashbacks, and the way they were handled,
I think the movie could have been great. On the annoying front, I
think the prosecution lawyer was way out of place. He was plain mean,
and it didn't fit.
There was lots of brooding in the present, which felt right,
for a small town in the midst of such a trial. At one point the power
goes out, and they are forced to take a break for the rest of the day.
The snow almost does in several members of the defense.
The best parts were the young flashbacks. The hollow tree
was mesmerizing. It was their secret rendezvous, when they fell in
love, and had their secret and forbidden affair.
My feeling is that the movie was fairly well acted, the dialogue
was good, for the most part, but the editing was very bad, confusing the
movie beyond style.