The novelistic flavor in the title “A Single Drop of Water in a Mighty River” is evident in the movie itself, a generally well made family drama-cum-love story infused with emotional conflict that Japan’s major studios are still so good at. Pic hauled in a respectable $10 million locally last year, but offshore it’s a cable and specialized TV filler.
Yukiko (Narumi Yasuda), a 30ish single woman, is drawn to Nikolai (Sergei Nakariakov), a Russian trumpet player, when he comes to Japan to audition for an orchestra after meeting her earlier in Moscow. While caring for her dying father (Rentaro Mikuni), she finally must decide between Nikolai and her longtime childhood friend, Shoji (Atsuro Watabe). Film’s weakness is the unconvincing love story rather than the family drama, which benefits from good performances by Mikuni as the father and Mitsuko Baisho as the mother. Yasuda (the bounty hunter in 1990 cult ninja fantasy “Zipang”) is fine as the dutiful-but-independent heroine, but has little chemistry with her blandly played male partners. Veteran Seijiro Koyama directs with a mellow hand, favoring long shots of characters against the landscape.