Review: ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ (PG) ??? ½

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DAVID Gelb’s study of master sushi chef Jiro Ono offers a panoply of a man with a single motivation – a personal quest for perfect sushi.

Jiro’s 10-seat restaurant in the basement of a Tokyo office block serves sushi only. It’s not cheap. It played a significant role in sushi’s progress from street food, sold by hawkers, to a world-wide gourmet experience. His son has a mirror restaurant. But the Michelin three stars belong to Jiro’s original place alone.

Like sex, cinema can talk about food, show it on the screen, wax lyrical about its values and delights, but cannot convey it as a complete experience. Gelb understands that limitation. His film is a journey through Jiro’s life, a portrait of a seeker for perfection in a single milieu, never satisfied with his achievements.

Gelb’s examination of Jiro’s profession and family offers wisdom, surprises, gentle humour, a peek behind the scenes at the sushi process from fish market to plate, everything the same today as yesterday and will be tomorrow until Jiro, 85 at the time of filming and still working every day, is no longer breathing. That kind of determination betokens a special kind of man. Some may wonder whether his obsession is worth its while. Jiro alone understands it and the film makes no judgement of it. His working life from age nine has given him an uncomplicated astuteness.

Somebody wanting in February to reserve a seat for a meal that can last as little as 15 minutes can have it in March. That’s a reputation to make any restaurant critic nervous.

 

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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