Movie Review: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

By Stephen Rebello

Stephen Rebello takes us into the world of 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono

Director: David Gelb

MPAA Rating: NR

Studio: Entertainment One

Jiro Ono, a meticulous, austere 85-year-old, presides over his 10-seat sushi restaurant tucked into the lower depths of a busy Tokyo subway station.  Neither the eatery’s size nor its unassuming locale has stopped the restaurant from being the first of its kind ever to win a highly coveted 3-star Michelin review.

Meanwhile, deep-pocketed patrons make reservations as long as a year in advance to dine on the legendary maestro’s works of culinary art, described by chef-author Anthony Bourdain as being, “As close to a religious experience in food as one is likely to get.”

Director David Gelb’s elegant and impeccably made documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi does many things well.  A portrait of a highly disciplined, obsessive perfectionist who vets every morsel of fish served and trains and watches his employees with merciless attention to detail; the movie is a grabber.  Sushi and its preparation are an art, passion and a driving force to this man. Gelb’s movie is also strong in detailing the tense, tender and landmine-littered relationship between the emotionally complex Ono and his two grown sons; neither of whom can ever hope to climb beyond his long shadow.  Although the film is high-toned foodie porn, it’s also too much a valentine to delve too deeply into such matters as Jiro’s legendarily monstrous temper and emotional aloofness.  It also glosses over his sons’ difficulties living up to a legend.  As a testament to the power of art to drive and burnish a monk-like existence, the sensual, artfully composed film may inspire you or, at the very least, make you ravenously hungry.  (Vegetarians please note: Prepare to find much of the film stomach-turning.)

About the Author

Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interviews and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2012. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.


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