By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
I like food as much as the next guy, but with my college-dulled palate, I’ve never been much of a foodie. That’s affected my movie viewing habits a touch as it’s led me to largely ignore a large subgenre of documentaries- the kitchen/culinary docs. I’d heard great things about Jiro Dreams of Sushi, but my tepid interest kept me from checking it out until now. My loss.
I had so MANY more important things to do
Jiro Dreams of Sushi tells the story of Jiro Ono,who built the most acclaimed sushi restaurant in the world from nothing. Besides examining his process, which is basically pick the very best ingredients and keep things simple so their flavors shine through, we learn of his philosophies on work and life in general, and the interesting family dynamics that will determine the future of his business.
The reason why this documentary is so great is that it uses the lens of a man and his restaurant to also capture a snapshot of the Japanese character and culture itself. The often heartbreaking story of Jiro, kicked out of his house by his father at ate nine, learning that hard work and dedication were the only way he was going to build something for himself, then using that philosophy to become the premier sushi chef in the world, all while not losing sight of his ideals and clinging to a humble life, is a neat parallel to the story of a resurrected postwar Japan itself (or at least their idealized national narrative).
Pictured: The idealized American narrative.
The film itself mirrors its subject- simple and unflashy, but lovingly and perfectly assembled. The classical score is ideal in support of images of a master at work, as are the sprinkling of slow-motion shots and close-up work. However, none of it upstages the essential part of any documentary- the fascinating people that inspired it and the stories they tell.
You should walk away form this movie with two things- an absolutely need for sushi, stat, and an appreciation of a master and his mantra- “find your craft, then dedicate your life to mastering it.”
I wish he was my Asian grandpa
Take a Drink: every time a piece of sushi is made
Take a Drink: every time Jiro stone cold stares down someone
Do a Shot: whenever Jiro reveals an incredibly sad piece of his past, then keeps on smiling