Film Critique Documentary

For this film critique I watched the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi directed by David Gelb. This compelling narrative features the life and work of Jiro Ono, a three Michelin star restaurant owner in Japan. His restaurant only features eleven seats, is reservation only, and has the best sushi in the world. What is even more fascinating than the actual circumstances of the restaurant is how it came to be and how Jiro became the greatest sushi chef in the world. David Gelb does a fantastic job at revealing the story in snippets, not giving away too much, but giving enough for just a bite until the next roll is given.

When you first meet Jiro you find out that he is a perfectionist. He is 85 years old, had been making sushi for most of them, and when it comes to sushi he is absolutely perfect. After this context clue we are awarded with gorgeous and mouth-watering shots of sushi so good it makes you want to cry, or lick the TV screen. Then its back to Jiro, discovering about how he raised his kids, or really didnt, but they stilled skipped college at his call and followed him into the sushi world. And then more shots of sushi, lots of shots of sushi.

This back and forth narration, broken up by the crafts of his trade was really well executed. The story of Jiro is not shoved down your throat, but like sushi is consumed right after it is prepared, and like in Jiro’s shop, is done one roll at a time. Hearing about how Jiro came to be the methodical sushi genius is a pleasure. At first he is perfect, and then he is an imperfect father, thrown out at the age of seven, working hard everyday of his life to survive, seeking always to be better, striving for new sushi feats. It’s a sort of double edged sword life he leads, pushing onward to a perfection that he can never achieve, while really holding a public perfection that everyone admires.

And all the while we are also learning about his sons along the journey, how they will pass him and shape or break the sushi future. We learn about his vendors and how they are also all geniuses in their crafts. We see how the best ingredients are found and brought to Jiro, how apprentices work extremely hard at preparing, apprentices must train under Jiro for ten years at least to be considered a chef, and how the customers feel about this tiny wonder.

I think the most compelling part of this film was constantly wanting to see and know and understand more than i did the previous minute. The time truly flew by on this one and now I have aspirations to go to this shop one day to experience real sushi. I would highly recommend this movie for anyone. Beautiful food, beautiful shots, and a interesting story would keep anyone compelled for the full 83 minutes.


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