Support us with Kachingle!
June 23, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST
In the flurry of films released every year, not many are devoted to elderly subjects. Less of them are about sushi chefs. Even if “sushi movies” turn out to be the blaxploitation of the 2010s, then Jiro Dreams of Sushi will still be a treat.
The film is a glowing profile of Jiro Ono, 85, one of the world’s premier sushi chefs and the staff of his restaurant. The majority of the film is set in and around his 10-seat establishment, located in a Tokyo basement, where patrons have to make reservations a month or more in advance. Despite the cramped setting, the film never feels less than expansive, taking moments to profile Jiro’s fish and rice suppliers and a Japanese food critic that serves as one of the restaurants most vocal supporters.
The dramatic crux of the film is the relationship between the legendary Jiro and his younger son Yoshikazu, a talented sushi chef in his own right, but living in the constant shadow of his father. It’s to the film’s credit that this restrained drama never feels forced or derails the film’s forward momentum. It is simply another ingredient adding flavor to the whole.
Perfectionism rules the chefs’ lives, and this sense is well reflected in director-cinematographer David Gelb’s look of the film. Lovingly crafted slow motion shots linger over prepared sushi like works of art in a fine gallery.
The film comes in at a tight 81 minutes and is almost entirely in Japanese with English subtitles. If you’re looking for a good food movie, or just a fascinating documentary, this is right up your alley. Just don’t come hungry.