Mixed or average reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 31
  2. Negative: 8 out of 31
  1. Scott Hicks adapts David Guterson's best-selling novel as if it was poetry.
  2. 88
    Uusually satisfying in the way it unfolds.
  3. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    The kind of richly layered film that Hollywood seldom attempts, much less brings off. But it's more than brought off here in grand, solid style and beautifully crafted detail.
  4. Reflective, deliberate, building gradually to a climax that left me touched.
  5. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Flawed, but fascinating, this somber adaptation of David Guterson's award-winning novel is sometimes sluggish and difficult to follow, but it's also unexpectedly poetic.
  6. Fails to completely engage the viewer at the basic level of story.
  7. As good as it is in many ways, the film is not as emotionally gripping as it should be, and comes off as a rather predictable liberal statement.
  8. 62
    Hicks is far less interested in resolving dramatic conflicts than in framing shots.
  9. Movies made from serious novels are often ridiculed as unworthy of their sources, but this one may be too worthy -- too reverent, too showy, too earnest.
  10. Too chilly and distanced to build the emotional impact it would like to have.
  11. A prettily photographed yet morbidly gloomy movie.
  12. Ultimately there's something too measured, too controlled in his film.
  13. As cosmetically sanitized revisions of history go: This is as good as it gets.
  14. Compelling almost in spite of itself, thanks to the impressionistic imagery of cinematographer Robert Richardson.
  15. Exceedingly blurred rendering of a simply told, artful novel.
  16. 50
    For all the beauty it struggles to bring forth, Snow Falling on Cedars is painfully prosaic.
  17. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    Not a crowd-pleasing, or even audience-oriented, movie; it's a two-hour-plus mood piece.
  18. Has to fight to hold our attention and it doesn't always succeed.
  19. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    Essentially a liberal soap opera.
  20. 40
    This badly muddled adaptation of a complex novel chases after Guterson's many skeins and themes with no unifying principle in mind.
  21. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    You just watch one carefully constructed but emotionally vacant image piled up on another - sometimes with regard to an overall effect, but often just for the sake of style over substance.
  22. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Impeccably crafted but dramatically dull.
  23. Never transports you to another place and time, as it intends to.
  24. 38
    The year's most beautiful movie -- and surely one of the dullest.
  25. 30
    The narrative chronology is so heavily hacked about, its tenses so addled and the material so thinly spread across so many characters, one can scarcely keep it straight in one's head without going cross-eyed.
  26. 30
    Trying to act in this movie is like trying to stand upright in a blizzard.
  27. Admirably high-minded and visually gorgeous but fatally anesthetized by its own grandiosity.
  28. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    All shots and no scenes, which is nice for a picture book but deadly for drama.
  29. Loaded with facile social themes, opaque characters, pointlessly intricate flashbacks, and inflated technique.
  30. 25
    Looks exquisite, but don't bother digging deeper.
  31. 25
    Ultimately groans under the weight of its own quiet gorgeousness.

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