JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI – Film Review

Revered sushi chef Jiro Ono strives for perfection in his work, while his eldest son, Yoshikazu, has trouble living up to his father’s legacy.

Every once in a while, you want to watch a film that will lift your spirits and put a gigantic smile on your face. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is exactly that type of movie. It’s perhaps a bit too narratively tight and it doesn’t necessarily explore the people around him as much, but it’s still a blast to watch Jiro do what he loves best – making sushi.

The concept for the film sounds a little bit silly if you look at it on paper. If you want to get technical, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is really just about a man that loves cooking sushi for his customers. Some people will find this movie extremely boring and will want to turn it off in a matter of minutes and that’s perfectly fine. Films are subjective after all. I can understand why some may find this movie lacking in many departments, but to me, it’s full of heart and passion and it’s beautiful.

You don’t even have to be a fan of sushi itself to enjoy this documentary, either. Throughout the course of my life, I have only tried sushi one time and it wasn’t something I would eat again. That being said though, watching this movie really made me appreciate sushi a lot more than I did before strangely. Yes, I don’t like the food, but so many people out there genuinely love it and Jiro is one of the people that loves it the most.

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Seeing how enthusiastic he is about the dish is truly infectious. His sheer passion and drive for making the best sushi in town is immensely uplifting and beautifully inspiring. I love cooking as well, but I can admit that I don’t love it nearly as much as Jiro does. He isn’t cocky about how good of a chef he is, though. He’s just quite assured of how good he is. He knows it but he doesn’t flaunt it.

It may seem like a strange compliment to give a documentary too, but the cinematography on display throughout is gorgeous. Cinematographer and director David Gelb somehow managed to make a food that I don’t enjoy look mouth-wateringly delicious and it was almost magical. It’s some of the best camera work I have seen in a documentary in a long time.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is not a perfect movie though. As I touched upon earlier, the film does feel a little bit too focus on Jiro and him cooking. You may think that would be an obvious thing, but when you are just watching one man cooking food for eighty-one minutes straight, it does wear you out a bit, despite the fact that the running time really isn’t that long when you think about it.

Plus, it would have been nice to have gotten to know a little more about the people around Jiro. His fellow chefs, his friends, his family, etc. Instead, we focus on him almost primarily which in turn causes us to only be invested in what he is doing. Nevertheless though, it’s undeniable that this film made me hungry immediately after and made me want to give sushi another try. Maybe someday.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is an uplifting food documentary injected with tons of heart and passion thanks to the wonderful story of its title chef.

Overall Grade: B+

MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements and brief smoking

Cast: Jiro Ono

Directed by: David Gelb

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Release Date: June 11, 2011

Running Time: 81 minutes

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