First a novel by David Gutterson, then a film directed by Scott Hicks. It tells the story of the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American accused of murdering a white man, Carl Heine. The backstory dives into the entire community on a small, close-knit island. As the trial goes on, flashbacks establish the past relationship between the disillusioned journalist covering the case and Kabuo's wife, the beautiful Hatsue, from childhood.
This work contains examples of:
- Adaptation Name Change: For some reason, Kabuo is called Kazuo in the film.
- Biggus Dickus: Carl Heine has a large penis. This is repeatedly emphasised, to the point when the coroner observing his dead body gets penis envy.
- Caught in the Rain: Has Hatsue and Ishmael, as teenagers, taking shelter from the rain in a fallen tree.
- Flashback: Makes up more than half of the story.
- Determined Homesteader: Hatsue and her husband, Kabuo. This is brought out in more detail in the book.
- The Fifties: Set in 1951, though flashbacks extend from before and into World War II.
- Intrepid Reporter: Ishmael's dad, the crusading editor with the courage of his convictions.
- Japanese American Internment Camps: All the Japanese people on the island get sent to Manzanar.
- Law Procedural: Kabuo's trial is central to the story.
- Scenery Porn: There really is a lot of snow falling on cedars in this picture. Filmed primarily in British Columbia but with some location shots in Port Townsend and on a national historical site at Whidbey Island.
- Shower Of Love: Carl's widow, during Kabuo's trial, privately and despairingly flashes back to this as one of the last memories she shared with her dead husband. I'd be sad too, given the earlier trope mentioned...
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Oh, Ishmael. He could also be the Iron Woobie.