Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Jiro Ono is an 85 year old sushi master and owner of a tiny, ten-seating restaurant in the basement of an office building in downtown Tokyo. Despite the simplicity of his meals, and the fact that his restaurant serves literally nothing but sushi, he still received the much coveted Three-Star Michelin Award, becoming the oldest person in history to do so. Jiro works in the restaurant with his son, Yoshikazu, who will eventually take over the business from his father, as well as several assistants who have to endure Jiro's relentless ten year training programme before being considered a sushi master themselves.
This documentary deals with a wide array of issues, from Jiro's opening speech of dreaming about sushi, it starts off as the story of an artist becoming inseparable from his art. Despite his age and having had a heart attack several years earlier, Jiro simply cannot imagine retiring. But it soon moves on from this to take in his constant striving for perfection, the issues of family within the Japanese way of life (Jiro has another younger son, who has opened his own competing sushi restaurant), the problem of over-fishing and the many, MANY different types of sushi.
If you are a fan of raw fish served on a small bed of rice, then this is the movie for you. The endless lovingly framed close-ups of the sushi will have even non-fish eaters slightly drooling. There is also a lot of humour to be found in Jiro's curmudgeonly manner - he is openly proud of the oppressive atmosphere in his restaurant - and his dealings with his family and his staff.
All in all, this would have made a fantastic 45 minute documentary on Channel 4, but unfortunately the film's admittedly slight running time still feels stretched out, with a lot of the same topics raised a number of times over the course of the movie. This causes what was once an interesting and unique subject to become repetitive and slightly tedious by the time the end credits come up. But for any food lovers out there looking for a peak behind the scenes, this is definitely a must watch.
Review by Rory Cashin | 10:33 | Friday 4th January 2013 | Movie Review