It’s the last stretch for RIDM’s final week. There’s still time to marathon the last few films so go on and do it! Our last morsel was a pleasant finish:
Over a decade after his first encounters with psychiatrist Dr. Masatomo Yamamoto, Kazuhiro Soda joins him again at the end of his career, in Zero. The documentary is more aptly named Seishin 0 in Japanese, which directly links it to its predecessor Seishin (entitled Mental for the English-speaking market). As humans, we need to understand the concept of “zero”. Spiritually, being at the zero point represents being content with what we have, even if we wish for often unattainable or superfluous things. Without forcing ourselves to act in a way that is mismatched with our personality or lifestyle, we can definitely strive for those things. But we don’t need to take them, nor have cheat days, as some do with fad dieting. Seishin means spirit. Yamamoto tries to teach his patients spiritual zero. What follows is the retiring doctor’s own path to zero.
After a successful career, which was the subject of the original Seishin, the much adored doctor must now observe his own advice. Take it easy. Enjoy time at home. Care for his wife. Order take-in sushi just because he feels like it. Soda’s camera observes the man and his beloved wife as they greet the beginning of the end of life.
Certain scenes play out almost like a wildlife documentary. Though watching the elderly couple take turns dozing off, looking for misplaced items or prepping snacks might feel a bit slow, it is also fascinating. Soda’s observational technique shows things, literally at zero. He does not rely on multiple cuts, irrelevant interludes or special effects. The film is nearly 3 hours long, and some elements could have been omitted. However, there is something riveting about seeing this couple in their daily routines. Even if not much is going on, isn’t that the point of taking retirement after a long and stressful career? Placing oneself at zero, as Yamamoto tells one of his patients, is like being a monk. Even the act of preparing a tea or a soup appears meditative. Movements are efficient and deliberate, and Soda captures these with ease.
Seishin 0 (Zero):
RIDM – On Demand, November 26th to December 2nd, 2020