Sixteen-year-old Riyo (Kudoh) arrives in Hawaii from Japan in 1918. She is a picture bride: pledged to marry a man she has never met save through a few photographs and letters. Hoping to escape a troubled past she is bitterly disappointed to learn that her husband is much older than he led her to believe, and Hawaii is not the island paradise (for her) that she had been led to believe. Her husband is a mere laborer in the sugar cane fields, not a plantation owner, and she must work hard too. Riyo works days in the fields, nights in a laundry, hoping to save enough to go back to Japan. She befriends a young mother named Kana (Tomita), and as the years pass, learns to cope with life's tragedies and small triumphs. Writer-director Kayo Hatta's beautifully shot 1994 film started as a UCLA film school project, but expanded into a feature. Hatta was especially lucky to get craggy, roaring old Mifune to do a cameo as "The Benshi" (narrator for the silent films). The result is a quiet, unspectacular but memorable film about the American dream as experienced by many Japanese immigrants (including my grandparents).
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The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus