Bottom Line: Just a title like Jiro Dreams of Sushi can save you over an hour and twenty minutes.
Directed by: David Gelb
Featuring: Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono
“The old pond” by Matsuo Bashō:
mizu no oto
Sushi is a delicacy. Raw fish and soy sauce is a combination some find appeasing, whereas others may find it disgusting. Personally, I enjoy sushi, but after two or three rolls, the taste has begun to sicken the tongue. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary that, ironically, plays out very similarly. Fundamentally, it’s about nothing but sushi, yet it’s cherished by critics and audiences alike, as if it’s a wonder to behold. Perhaps die-hard sushi aficionados could excavate something unique from it. Otherwise, it’s just as stultifying as a behind-the-scenes tour of the Cooking Channel.
Jiro Ono is an 85-year-old Japanese native. For as long as he can remember, he has indulged in preparing sushi at his restaurant, the acclaimed Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. Apart from this, the only two occurrences within the past forty years were a heart attack and taking cigarettes out of his mouth permanently. That’s it. Just sushi, sushi, and more sushi, at a restaurant that does nothing but serve sushi. Let’s admit, he’s an honorable and dedicated fellow, dedicating his life to guess-what. But unless you wholeheartedly agree with Jiro, his fanatical outlook is far more disturbing than convincing. Jiro treats sushi not as a food but as a religion, in which octopus is a sacrament and fish cadaver is a prophet. He worships it with the most pretentious vocabulary; essentially, he’s a Jehovah’s Witness for sushi, trying to advertise in a door-to-door manner, but usually turning off his targets instead.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is watchable. That’s a sparse compliment. Most of this is due to the occasional bright spot. The cinematography is minimalist, captured by its own director. Light, bright, a few fades. The music, a compilation mostly of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and what have you. And yes, I do enjoy pieces such as the prelude to Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1”. Even better in a bright, shiny, metallic room. But once I see a shrimp oozing like a breaking pimple, it becomes the backdrop for a rather unpleasant infomercial. Watashi wa “disappointed” desu.