August 29, 1988 12:00 PM

A housewife fed up with her husband’s coldness finds the strength to walk out after 40 years. She’s 65. She’s also Japanese. While she has lived in San Jose’s Japantown for decades and raised two Americanized daughters, she clings to old traditions. Each week she returns home to do her husband’s wash. Director Michael Toshiyuki Uno’s feature debut is a film of heartache leavened with humor and hope. The Asian-American cast, working in English from a 1984 play by Philip Kan Gotanda, could not be bettered. Nobu McCarthy, Pat Morita’s lady in The Karate Kid, Part II, is a marvel as the woman trying to throw off the yoke of the past. As her ramrod husband, forcefully played by Mako (an Oscar nominee for The Sand Pebbles), waits for her return, she quietly builds a new life. McCarthy’s scenes with Sab Shimono, as a widower who courts her, bubble with high spirits. The two giggle at the sight of themselves in bed. But Shimono has spent a lifetime with another woman, McCarthy with another man. At the end they stand fishing together in a silence flooded with memories. The image haunts. So does the movie. (Not rated)

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