Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) MIFF Film Review

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Jiro Ono is in his mid-eighties and is the oldest chef to receive the highest restaurant award, three Michelin stars. What’s more, his restaurant only seats ten and for some patrons, the experience may only last fifteen minutes. But three Michelin stars are certainly not to be sniffed at, and it is clear that Jiro is a master at his art.

This documentary looks at two sides to Jiro. The first is with his mastery of Sushi. He has kept the same routine for over seventy-five years and expects nothing less than perfection from himself and his employees. Much of the preparation is now undertaken by his oldest son, who visits the markets and selects the fish. The shots of the preparation and presentation of the food are gorgeous and it is easy for the viewer to appreciate the craft that goes into preparing these amazing dishes.

The second side of Jiro is his family. Jiro grew up poor, separated from his parents at a young age. He has two sons; the oldest continues to work with his father and the younger has started his own sushi restaurant. The film appeared to be searching for controversy that didn’t really seem to be there. Yes, the older son of dreamt of being a fighter pilot and a F1 racer, but does that mean that he is not happy following his father’s footsteps? Was the absence of any mention of his wife significant?

The film didn’t need to strive for controversy or conflict. It exists as a delightful documentary on a style of food that is beautiful and a group of men who have made, or are making, careers out of this artistry. It is even worth struggling through poorly chosen subtitle colouring and size.