This overly ambitious movie wants to be a sweeping period drama (covering a dozen years starting in 1936), a clash-of-cultures romance (Irish-American falls in love and marries Japanese-American), and a sobering history lesson (about the injustices Americans of Japanese descent suffered during World War II). Its biggest problem is that because the film stretches to embrace all the broad elements, we’re left with taking the love story on faith — Quaid and Tomita kiss within just minutes of meeting each other — because other ground must be covered.
In movie theaters, Come See the Paradise was a rushed and overstuffed epic that never fully engaged its audience. On video, however, the movie plays out more like a languorous, patchwork miniseries, and you find yourself more willing to sketch in the blank space. (Occasionally pausing the tape for a trip to the kitchen doesn’t hurt, either.) While some of its big problems remain, Come See the Paradise, proves to be much more palatable on the small screen.