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It's 1950 on San Pedro Island in the American Pacific Northwest. Commercial fisher Carl Heine Jr.'s dead body is pulled out of the water in a fishing net by his crew, he who died of head trauma. Kazuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. Carl and Kazuo were once friends, had known each other since childhood, but WWII has placed a strain on any sort of relationship between the ethic Japanese and Caucasian populations of the area, the Japanese population which was and is still substantial on the island. Carl had motive regarding a land dispute between the two families, land which Carl's mother eventually sold from under the Miyamotos and which Carl had just repurchased. Evidence also points to Kazuo being on the water with Carl probably sometime during his last voyage, evidence which Kazuo knew would put him in a bad light, adding on top of being Japanese, and thus decided not to disclose to the investigating sheriff at the time he was questioned. Kazuo and his wife Hatsue's fear come ... Written by
This is one of those films that needs to be seen a second time to pick up on the subtleties of the plot. It is a feast for the eyes and features outstanding acting. It also has a sense of balance. It doesn't manipulate its viewer. The murder mystery isn't one that brings in forces that threaten the main character. The forces are prejudice and fear. The adversaries are not people carrying guns but rather the legal system that often overlooked the rights of people of another race or ethnic background. The internment camps are part of the backdrop. I know that people say this is slow, but so is the process these people faced.
I loved the intellectual character of the young man who has to look past his own feeling and try to bring closure to someone he will never be able to have. The transitions are so breathtaking. The winter scenes are a portrait of softness and violence. My wife had read the book upon which this is based and said that the movie might be interesting. Apparently, the producers were unwilling to go the extra mile to get this noticed. It's a gem and deserves to be on a list of very fine movies.
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