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Picture Bride Movie Review

hatta riyo kayo toshiro

It is 1918. Seventeen-year-old Riyo arrives in Hawaii from Yokohama. She is marrying Matsuji (Akira Takayama) and they only know each other through the exchange of photographs. When she learns that Matsuji sent her a 25-year-old picture, she feels tricked and will not let him sleep with her. She has no money to go home, but determines to do so as soon as she earns the $300 return fare by working on a sugar plantation at 65 cents a day. If only Riyo had gone on to show the gumption that she proved she already had when she first arrived in Hawaii, Picture Bride would he a much more gripping film. Instead, we get female bonding, tragedy, submission, and acquiescence. We don't know what Riyo feels and the emotional territory that Kayo Hatta covers here is awfully familiar. Better films about the immigrant experience include 1979's Gaijin by Tiruka Yamasaki and 1991's 1000 Pieces of Gold by Nancy Kelly. Toshiro Mifune makes a cameo appearance as a benshi (narrator) of a silent movie.

1994 (PG-13) 95m/C JP Yoko Sugi, Youki Kudoh, Akira Takayama, Tamlyn Tomita, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa; Cameos: Toshiro Mifune; D: Kayo Hatta; W: Kayo Hatta, Mari Hatta, Diane Mark; C: Claudio Rocha; M: Cliff Eidelman. Sundance Film Festival ‘95: Audience Award; Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards ‘96: Best First Feature. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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