The husband who gets home late and says nothing to his wife but “furo” (“bath”), “meshi” (“food”) and “neru” (“sleep”) is a cliche about Japanese married life that is often not far from the truth. The macho ideal has traditionally been the quiet type and Japanese women have traditionally been expected to endure non-communication from their mates and find conversation partners in children and friends. Or cats.

The elderly couple in “Only The Cat Knows,” Shotaro Kobayashi’s spritely new film based on Keiko Nishi’s popular manga, seems to fit this cliche to a T. The husband, Masaru (Tatsuya Fuji), barely acknowledges the existence of his wife, Yukiko (Chieko Baisho), even though they have been married for 50 years.

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