I haven't read the book it was based on but sometimes things in books work better in books and things in movies work better in movies.
No doubt the movie was beautiful from it's long drawn out scenes of a bunch cedars and stuff. And it's rather brilliant in it's telling of the story through EXTREEMME flashback mode.
Kazuo Miyamoto is on trial for killing Carl Heine, who may have been his friend at one point, I couldn't really tell. The backdrop is some small fishing island town in Washington post WWII and anti-Japanese sentiments still run strongly in many people. And the Japanese can't be all too quick to forget the years spent in internment camps during the war. Oh and you have the one armed newspaper guy wonder Ishmael, who just can't seem to get over his old girlfriend Hatsue, who so happens to be Kazuo's wife.
The story is told in a dizzying manner of flashbacks and court proceedings. A good indicator of whether or not something was a flashback is to see whether or not Ishmael still has both arms. The shifting from past to present to both is constantly washed over with great tidal waves of tense strings. Much of the score includes expansively tense strings and other parts of the movie subject the viewer to talking over talking to mere silence to the annoying tick tock of a clock.
Too bad while all that was wonderful, it was quite boring at times to watch. It's not very confusing if one pays attention but it's confusing nonetheless and it seems to drag on and on with no end in sight. I hear the ending though is similar to the book but it seems like such a copout, though we have obvious signs to it being that way early in the film through Ishmael's own private investigating.
Maybe some people will really dig the disjointed storytelling and delightfully tragic romance being told but for others, maybe not so much.