After working as a psychiatrist for more than 50 years, 82-year-old Masatomo Yamamoto is about to retire. But that doesn’t mean he’s stopped caring about his fellow human beings. Kazuhiro Soda, who previously filmed Yamamoto for Mental (2008), returns to the clinic in Okayama for Zero. Patients bring along tasty treats as a token of their affection, and ask for final words of advice. And, of course, they are also concerned about whether they will have such a good rapport with the new doctor.
Soda swears by a consistently observational style: his long, single-shot scenes are always in service to whatever is happening in the space. Some of these focus on extended personal conversations, while in others barely a word is spoken. What is always apparent is the level of trust that the endlessly patient psychiatrist has built up over the years.
A scene where Soda visits Yamamoto and his wife, who has dementia, is particularly moving. Bodies start to fail and memories fade. But even here, perhaps especially here, the tireless compassion endures. A beautiful portrait overflowing with a psychiatrist’s neighborly love.