In a close-knit rural village far from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, the police have arrived, investigating the mysterious disappearance of Dr. Ino (Tsurube Shofukutei), the local doctor who takes care of everyone’s medical needs, running the clinic and making regular house calls, a trusted figure often seen riding around on his motorized bike, greeting the citizens like an old friend. As the detectives question the residents, flashbacks depict the special relationship that existed between the well-compensated doctor — the town pays him $200,000 a year — and the people. Dr. Ino had recently been joined by an intern, med-school graduate Keisuke Soma (Eita), who showed up in a flashy convertible, upset he didn’t get a position in a Tokyo hospital, but even he was soon won over by Dr. Ino’s charm and skill. But when nurse Akemi Ohtake (Kimiko Yo) has to guide Ino through a difficult procedure and city doctor Ritsuko Torikai (Haruka Igawa) has doubts about how Ino is treating her ill mother (Kaoru Yachigusa), questions arise that bring some surprising answers. Winner of three major categories at the 2009 Hochi Film Awards — Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Eita), and Best Supporting Actress (Yachigusa) — DEAR DOCTOR is a warm, tender-hearted story written and directed by Miwa Nishikawa, who also earned accolades for her first two films, 2003’s WILD BERRIES and 2006’s SWAY. Shofukutei is terrific as Dr. Ino, a cross between Akira Emoto’s Dr. Akagi and Robin Williams’s Patch Adams (and we mean that in a good way). The solid cast also includes the ubiquitous Teruyuki Kagawa (SWAY, TOKYO SONATA, GOLDEN SLUMBER) as pharmaceutical supplier Masayoshi Saimon. DEAR DOCTOR is a real charmer.