We’ve got something very unusual today to review, as our friends out at Magnolia Entertainment sent a copy of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” to review. This one…this one is going to be largely unlike anything you’ve seen lately, but will originality be enough to make this one worth checking out?
“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” follows the title character, Jiro Ono, the 85 year old proprietor of Japan’s Sukiyabashi Jiro, a ten-seat sushi restaurant that is somehow found in the midst of a subway station. The twist? Ono is regarded by many as the best sushi chef on Earth.
Sukiyabashi Jiro has a three-star Michelin rating, which is tough enough for any restaurant to get, let alone one within shouting distance of a subway stop. Potential patrons wait years, travel huge distances, and even shell out big bucks to get a seat in Sukiyabashi Jiro. But what is it about this little restaurant wedged into the equivalent of a closet in a subway station? Is it the food? Or is it the man?
It’s a bizarre question to ask, and frankly, getting to the answer is even more lunatic. This is a movie about an elderly man who not only, as the title outright states, dreams about sushi and creates new recipes accordingly, but an elderly man whose skill with sushi is so legendary that people will go to preposterous lengths to get some. And yes, this is sushi we’re talking about here. Raw fish, rice, seaweed, the whole magilla. But this man does it to such an extent that the end product is absolutely amazing, and sought after, that it’s almost an art form.
Like you might expect, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is absolutely laden with information on just how sushi came to be, and how sushi comes to be every day. The history of sushi is surprisingly deep, and the history of Jiro’s restaurant, as well as that of Jiro’s son, is equally surprisingly rich. At the end of the day, this is still a movie about sushi, and it’s easy to think that there’s not a whole lot to get out of this one. There is, however, an almost disturbing level of depth to “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” that’s hard not to like. Part of the last 20 minutes features a sushi exhibition in which a huge number of classes of sushi are shown off.
While “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is an incredibly specific film–a niche film, no mistake–it’s a film of such incredible depth that it almost feels like a basic starter course in sushi. Anyone who likes sushi, or wants to make it, should see this movie. Even those who just want to see the story of a man who has worked all his life to master his craft will find a welcome treat in this one.