Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
74 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
509th Review: Oscar Contending Film
intelearts14 July 2012
Jiro is not an easy celebration of sushi - it is certainly not simply stunning shots of food on plates - it is rather a more difficult and even challenging film about the complex nature of obsession, perfection, and the discipline and almost OCD behavior that it takes to become the world's best.

Jiro is acknowledged as the world's best - his restaurant in a pass in an underground station in Tokyo sits 9 people at a time, has to be booked at least a month in advance, and costs the best part of a week's wages. Yet no-one would hesitate - this is, as Michelin recognizes, worth a trip to Japan just to go and eat there.

The film succeeds as it is itself a near perfect reflection of the same ethos - it becomes apparent very quickly that this is not sentimental romantic filming - it chooses to avoid rich color, and in the editing and, in particular, the composition of the shots is singularly well-thought through. Many shots are based on the golden mean, and placed exactly two-thirds to the right of frame - and there is throughout a sense of real thought and balance. The Peter Greenaway-like score add to the general sense of rhythm and balance here.

The documentary itself is particular and peculiar - it is not in itself a documentary that embellishes - it focuses on Jiro, his sons, their suppliers, the apprentices, the produce, and the product - but we always feel that there are more stories untold than told here - Jiro is not, in the main, likable - but he is totally and utterly committed and passionate to the point of coldness about his process - in a way that few are anymore - and in this sense the film is also more an elegy than a eulogy - Jiro's work ethic is gone forever even now - who wants to work 16 hours a day for 75 years anymore?

We are watching the recording of extinction, and it is still beautiful. So we end up with a stark yet beautiful film that both records the passing of greatness and questions it. It is certainly one of the best documentaries of 2012.
60 out of 65 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Mamgoforit12 March 2012
I was thoroughly charmed by the film. When I read the synopsis, I thought I would be bored to tears. But it's a lovely, poignant, challenging documentary about excellence, discipline, vocational call, tenacity. The film challenged me to think about my own persistence, an ongoing striving to improve and grow, doing work for the love of it and much less so for the financial gain. the documentary highlights the ability to succeed after incredible hardship, and some would say, cruelty. The cinematography was elegant, the music varied and interesting, the precision of the art of making sushi, the rigor and discipline to do it well, the requirement to be surrounded by others who always want to excel. A wonderful film and I'll see it again...and again. It even made me want to eat sushi...which I never do.
57 out of 62 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Both fascinating and inspirational, this portrait of a man in pursuit of perfection is a humbling and life-changing experience
moviexclusive25 July 2012
It is a sad but true fact that modern-day society has tended to place too much emphasis on the pursuit of success defined in tangible and even grandiose forms but not so much on the far more meaningful pursuit of perfection. No wonder then that 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi', a thoughtful and absolutely inspiring portrait of the 85-year-old sushi chef Jiro Ono, comes like a breath of fresh air, demonstrating the superior fulfilment one gets by putting perfection ahead of success- since it is with the former that the latter will inevitably follow.

As is with most of our readers, we had not heard of Jiro Ono before this documentary, but here's just a few facts about him to tantalise you. Jiro is the owner of a 10-seater basement-level restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro accessible via underpass en route to the Ginza subway station. Yet despite the fact that the restaurant has a fixed-menu, serves only sushi, and will set you back a whopping ¥30,000 (or $$480), you have to make reservations at least one month in advance in order to secure a seat.

And here's the most amazing thing- that humble restaurant has been awarded three Michelin stars, with both celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and Joel Robuchon proclaiming that their best sushi experience was at that very establishment. It's a fascinating subject for a documentary, and debut feature helmer David Gelb more than does his subject justice with a thoroughly intriguing look at Jiro's recipe for perfection as well as the dynamic between Jiro and his eldest son cum future heir to the business Yoshikazu.

It's no secret to reveal that dedication, hard work and perseverance are the ingredients to Jiro's success today- and Gelb demonstrates this through interviews with a prominent Japanese food critic Yamamoto Masuhiro, current and former apprentices, and of course Jiro himself. Each of these are informative and insightful, yielding different perspectives on the master – or as the Japanese would call him, 'shokunin', which means artisan – and among the ones you won't forget are his exacting ten-year training regime for staff and his constant and consistent pursuit for betterment.

Yet any portrayal of Jiro cannot be complete without his two sons - the elder Yoshikazu mentioned earlier and his younger son Takashi, who runs the restaurant's only other branch in the upscale Roppongi Hills neighbourhood in Tokyo. Instead of a college education, both sons were trained by their father from young as sushi chefs, and as Jiro himself admits, their tutelage could not have been any much easier than the other kitchen workers who spend hours fanning sheets of nori seaweed over a coal fire or practise making sweet omelette 200 times.

Throughout the movie, Gelb deliberately teases the question of whether the younger Ono, Yoshikazu, is indeed worthy enough to take over the reins from Jiro. It's not easy trying to live up to the expectations of a perfectionist father ("Jiro's ghost will always be there watching," he says with resignation at one point) but the answer as to whether Yoshikazu is good enough, is absolutely gratifying when it comes. Compared to Yoshikazu, less emphasis is paid on Takashi, except to imply that Takashi's methods will never be the same as that of Jiro's.

Interesting to note too that Jiro isn't the only one so passionate about his work- in fact, as Yoshikazu brings us on a tour of the teeming Tsujiki market where the restaurant, like most if not all other sushi joints in Tokyo, gets its catch, it becomes clear that Jiro has been able to keep up such high standards in his food precisely because his suppliers share the same demanding standards over the catch they sell. It's almost a code of practice between the two parties, and even Jiro's rice supplier refuses to sell the same rice he does to Jiro to the folks at the Grand Hyatt because he thinks he might as well not let them have it if they don't know how to cook it.

The attitude displayed by these individuals, including of course Jiro, is truly admirable – and like the people in the film, Gelb's documentary while multi-faceted in its subjects, remains as its titular character singular of purpose in reminding its audiences the reason for Jiro's extraordinary success thus far. Of course, there are the requisite mouth-watering shots of freshly made sushi to tantalise your tastebuds, but what ultimately rings loud and true is the very qualities that has gotten Jiro recognised by the Japanese government as a 'national treasure'.

And as far-fetched as the title may sound, it is actually meant to be taken literally – "in dreams I have grand visions of sushi," says Jiro, the pursuit of which forms the very essence of his being. We dare go as far as to say that watching 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' is a life-changing experience, one that forces you to reflect and re-evaluate your priorities, to place perfection over success, and to recognise that the pursuit of one's dreams can truly be fulfilling.

  • www.moviexclusive.com
37 out of 41 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Lessons for life
anonfish22 March 2012
When I got the invitation to go to this film, I was extremely hesitant and worried as to what I was going to be viewing. Even to go so far as to accept the impending nap I was about to have.

I was sorely mistaken about getting a nap. From the very beginning the story and life lessons presented were gripping. True respect for the dedication, hard work and absolute presence of mind to clear away all the minutiae that many of us get caught up in to focus on the details that are so very important.

I have actually seen action films with more lulls and uninteresting parts then what I watched in this film. It's a great story.
48 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Nutshell Review: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
DICK STEEL26 July 2012
I never am quite the foodie, and never cared too much about Michelin Guide rated restaurants around the world. But Jiro Dreams of Sushi has made me think twice, that in my lifetime I just might afford that 30000 Yen meal prepared by one of the best, if not THE best sushi master around, and his team comprising of his eldest son and apprentices who relentlessly work at perfecting and continuously improving upon their skills and gastronomical offering in the humble looking food blessed with delicious flavours. And there's not much of a secret to their success, other than using nothing but the finest and freshest of ingredients, backed by an uncompromising philosophy of hard work and consistency.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is like a biographical film, and more. It chronicles the humble beginnings of chef Jiro Ono, recognized as a national treasure in Japan for his bringing of honor to Japanese cuisine, and peers into his professional work ethics that defines a perfectionist. And these lessons learnt apply to more than just sushi preparation and presentation, but are sound lessons not only about wanting to do well, but to excel in what one does. It boils down to pride in one's work, and reminds of how one should be chasing excellence and not success, since the latter is something that will automatically follow once the former is achieved.

And success is something that Jiro's Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo has garnered with its Michelin Guide Three Stars rating, but the chef is hardly stopping at being satisfied with that. There are plenty of interview segments that has the master providing anecdotes that nullifies the usually stern looking demeanour he has when wanting to do the best for his diners. With only ten seats in his shop, it's little wonder about the attention that's being paid to the idiosyncrasies of each diner, with little unsaid touches that make the experience unique and unforgettable, though some may say it's kinda stressful to be eating there.

But make no mistake, the experience is something one should be looking at, and David Gelb's film is like a walking menu of some of the best on offer at the restaurant. The cinematography here is simply astounding and beautiful, adding a dimension to the individual, intricately prepared sushi pieces up close, that you can almost smell and taste what it may have smelled and tasted like. And that's not all, with Gelb being very conscious at painting a very romantic, rhythmic pace for the restaurant interior, and the chefs and apprentices in slow motion was pure poetry, akin to the need to slow down when dining at Sukiyabashi Jiro in order to savour the food, and to take in the experience completely. Watching the film on an empty stomach, is like playing with fire and seeking to be gastronomically tempted.

To balance what would be talking heads, Gelb's documentary ventures out to catch glimpses of Jiro Ono outside of the restaurant in his rare days off, with celebration and recognition of those who had made him successful. The almost still shot of his entire team flanking him, brought nothing less than the majestic, clockwork effort everyone chips in, with screen time also devoted to key suppliers (and reason enough to venture into the auctions at the famed Tsukiji Fish Market), whom Jiro has to trust to make decisions on purchasing, pricing, stocking and delivering nothing but the best, from the fish, right down to the rice. Experts in their own field, you cannot help but to feel a sense of professional politeness amongst their interaction, and think it's a Japanese thing, but it's true that one should not forget those who had helped in any way in one's ascension to success. Yet another lesson learnt with some subtlety.

The best though, came out of the blue. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is really an exercise into continuity, and the leaving behind of a legacy with the hopes in an Asian context that one's descendants continue with the good work and goodwill already established, to see something so painstakingly created, and sustained, having a life of its own. Gelb's film dedicates a good portion of the film to Jiro Ono's two sons, one who's running the branch at Roppongi Hills (and a Michelin Guide Two Stars, no less), and the elder one at the Ginza outlet, according to tradition, who will inherit the main venue when the inevitable happens. Talk about pressure, and the long shadow that would be cast for one to try and get out of. And there's a surprise installed that provided something of a sucker punch, that affirms Sukiyabashi Jiro, is under fine hands indeed.

It takes more than a decade to learn the ropes, and many more years of hard work and dedication, which to Jiro Ono is a never ending journey of improvement, to become a sushi master, and Gelb's film masterfully captures key aspects of this profession of dedication, with lessons in life never sounding preachy at any point. With good food and well placed humour, Jiro Dreams of Sushi more than deserves a five star film rating, and is definitely one of the best I've seen this year. Now to put some money aside so that the next trip to Tokyo can bring me either to the Roppongi or Ginza outlets.
19 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
You'll dream of Jiro.
jdesando7 April 2012
Sushi lovers will be hypnotized by the 85 year old subject of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro has spent his life seeking perfection in sushi preparation, and Michelin agrees that he has come close by awarding him three stars, unprecedented for an octogenarian.

Jiro's restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in a Tokyo office building basement has reservations available a month away. He and his heir, Yoshikazu labor all day to buy the best raw fish at the market and sell the best sushi. Nothing less.

The film does a good job tracking the preparation, from picking one out of ten fish at any time to delicately shaping tuna around rice or massaging octopi for 20 minutes before preparation. Buying the best rice is another ritual that has its own rules, and Jiro rules.

Although the documentary can be repetitious, moments of beauty accompany the process such as likening serving sushi to a concert with different moods and tempos.

It might be best to see this film on a full stomach. Otherwise you'll be racing to the nearest Asian bistro. Not a bad thing.
28 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A movie about food, with a story that would inspire all.
cshsia15 March 2012
This is a movie about food, but it's much deeper in its story and content. I was truly inspired by a man's pursuit of perfection, the dedications of the understudies, the family dynamic between father and son, and the cultural beauty of Japanese crafts. Yes there are shots of "food porn" woven in, but the movie is charming and much deeper than slow-motion food shots (not that I'm complaining, some shots are stunning).

The young director has good command of the camera, and drives the movie through interviews. People in the theater were applauding at the end. I can't wait to get the DVD.
14 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Respectful Tribute to a Sushi Master's Unwavering Quest for Perfection
EUyeshima2 April 2012
Located in a downtown Tokyo subway station, Sukiyabashi Jiro is an inconspicuous subterranean restaurant with just ten counter seats, yet it has the distinction of being the only sushi restaurant with a three-star Michelin rating. David Gelb's meticulously produced 2012 documentary tells the story of Jiro Ono, an octogenarian perfectionist whose constant striving for culinary transcendence has made him legendary among epicureans in the know. He loves his job, as he readily admits upfront, and while a model of stoic diligence and invariable routine, Ono does show his adoration in unexpected ways that manifest themselves through the unassuming pride he takes in his work. He even imagines new sushi creations in his sleep, thus the title. Such an unwavering quest does take its toll on his two sons who must find their way out of his shadow.

His younger son Takashi managed to escape the constant glare of his father by running his own premium sushi restaurant in the Roppongi Hills area of Tokyo, one that doesn't bother to compete with his father's. His older son Yoshikazu, however, bears the burden of the family legacy as the one to carry on his father's standards after he retires. Over fifty and still an apprentice, Yoshikazu patiently waits for his turn at running the flagship restaurant foregoing earlier dreams of becoming a race car driver. Since his father suffered a heart attack at seventy, he has taken over the critical task of getting the best fish possible at the world-renowned Tsukiji fish market. Gelb does a particularly nice job of showing the hurly-burly atmosphere of the pre-dawn tuna auctions and the lives of the men running the tiny stalls selling fresh seafood of all kinds. Perhaps by design, the film is comparatively more opaque in having us understand the genesis of the elder Ono's drive toward perfection.

While one contributing factor was the absence of Ono's father's absence, it is unclear who actually did influence him to become a sushi chef. There is also hardly a mention of the chef's wife, even though there is an extended passage of a reunion with his childhood pals who characterize him as something of a bully. Interviews with former co-workers shed some light onto the chef's stoicism. In fact, one of Japan's better known food critics admits to being intimidated by patronizing Ono's sushi bar due to the master's overwhelming artistry and attention to detail. Toward that end, I would have liked to have seen more scenes focused on the actual preparation of the sushi rather than simply admiring them on the counter once they are finished. Still, this is a unique look into a man who has not gone gentle into the good night in his quest for the perfect piece of sushi.
20 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
No doubt a great sushi master, but seemed completely one sided Warning: Spoilers
This film showed that with talent and great amounts of hard work, success can be achieved, but more than anything I felt like I was being told that "giro is the greatest and don't bother thinking anything other than that".

I found it rather interesting looking into the art of sushi more than I have ever before but, not being a massive eater of sushi, after a while the interest faded to boredom. Repeatedly seeing different fish cut and served, rolled and served.. it went on for some time. Throughout the film you got the sense that Jiro wasn't the friendliest person in the world, however the film only focused on his success and technique, I think it would have been interesting to see his wife's point of view.

All in all, interesting to see high quality sushi but not enough of a background story for me to love it.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Alternatingly Indulgent, Bittersweet, Creative and Poignant
drqshadow-reviews21 June 2012
A lingering, sentimental look at the mentality and habits of Jiro Ono, legendary sushi chef and Japanese national treasure. The long, personal chats with Jiro and sons, plus an exhaustive investigation into every aspect of his business, are balanced by an overly generous dose of shallow focal-range, slow-motion food porn. Like many stereotypical wise men of his age and nationality, the old master also has plenty of sharp, stirring wisdom to impart. Though he doesn't come right out and say it, it's easy to see the parallels he hopes you'll draw between his dedication to the kitchen and the nuances of a rewarding life, and my breath caught in my throat on more than one occasion. A great vehicle for deep immersion into a very traditional Japanese culture, this is far deeper and more rewarding than it initially lets on.
12 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a very simple film about a very simple man
bburns31 March 2012
There are no spoilers in this review simply because there is nothing in "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" to spoil. There is no plot as such. It is strictly a portrait of Jiro Ono, the world's greatest sushi-maker. He has no hobbies or interests other than sushi. The only major change in his life in the last 40 years is that he quit smoking. He groomed both his now middle-aged sons (somewhat against their will) to be sushi chefs.

The point of the film seems to be two-fold. The main purpose seems to be to assure Jiro's legions of fans that his elder son Yoshikazu will follow his father's recipes exactingly and will make no changes to the restaurant once Jiro dies. And the secondary purpose is to show the importance of sustainable fishing.

If you're looking for a narrative plot-driven film, you'll be disappointed. But if you are a foodie who likes seeing behind the scenes at a fine restaurant, this is the movie for you. Be warned though: You have to see this in a theater near a sushi restaurant or you'll be disappointed in whatever meal you eat following the film.
23 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good, but a lot of unanswered questions
rgcustomer1 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This film is about a 10-seat sushi restaurant, which has earned a top-level 3-star Michelin rating. And it's about the 85-year-old master chef, and his two sons.

I tend to write negatively, and I think I may simply be incapable of writing a glowing review, so take my score of 8, and imagine I wrote something 8-ish here.

First, the sushi. Yes, the film does deliver some food porn. The sushi appears to be mainly nigiri (hand-formed, fish on top of rice). The best example of this is when the three phases of Jiro's meals are described. Lots of pretty sushi are presented. But not as much as you'd think. This documentary isn't really about the sushi, so you don't really learn any sushi secrets.

There's also the fish market, and sushi preparation. There are some unpleasant scenes of living creatures becoming food, so be warned. They do briefly discuss the vanishing quantities and varieties of fish, but don't spend much time on that.

Mainly, the film is about Jiro's obsession with sushi. I don't say "improving sushi" because although they try to give you the impression that Jiro is always improving, the few improvements they talk about are: using fresher ingredients rather than refrigerated, massaging the octopus for a longer time, hoarding a particular kind of rice, serving women smaller sizes, and serving left-handed people from the other side of the plate. Those aren't very satisfying improvements to learn about, nor do we learn of the process of improvement.

The film is more about Jiro and his two sons in the sushi business. One works with him, and will inherit his place. The other is already operating a mirror-image shop in a different location. We learn a lot about their working relationships, but not really much at all about the rest of their lives.

As presented in the film, Jiro seems to live a very shallow and small existence, and yet somehow he reproduced twice. How did that even happen? While he seemed to care for his sons, in a fashion, I didn't get a sense he formed any meaningful connections with other people, or even with them, outside of business. Yet, he seems quite happy with it that way. At the same time, he puts so much effort into what is basically a frivolous enterprise.

Is it good business planning, or the result of crazy obsession? Is it even perfectionism, or are we being trolled? Do you need to have the nose of a master chef to appreciate how good the sushi is? Should the rest of us care? We are told cleanliness is one of the five essential characteristics of a master chef, yet the chefs seemed to be touching their itchy, runny noses a lot. I think one chef wiped his nose on his arm. Since all the food is touched by hand immediately before going to someone's mouth, if I saw anyone looking sick, I'd walk out. Do they just talk a good game? I compare it to art that is worth millions of dollars. Of course, no canvas is worth that. People just talk it up, and up it goes, until people realize it's just paint and canvas, and down it comes again.

Despite the omissions and seeming inconsistencies, it is still a moving film. I think viewers will relate to the ideas of craftsmanship, quality, dedication, hard work, and family business, and will enjoy knowing that the real star of the family may not actually be Jiro anymore. Anyhow, this is a guy who remains very successful near the end of his life, and his routine seems to satisfy him thoroughly, leaving the viewer with a smile.
13 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
jeppesoerensen18 April 2017
I don't think this movie lives up to all the hype it has received. If you are a chef or just a food lover you would probably like this movie a whole lot more than me. It seemed to be more about food porn and less about the story of the owner. I tried to watch this movie on two separate occasions and both times I could not finish the movie. It became boring after about 45 minutes and I had to stop. Don't get me wrong, this movie is still good and the story of the Owner is very touching but I thought I could have been done much better.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A simple man contributing to the world through his food.
annuskavdpol14 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a movie about a senior citizen who is teaching his one son about sushi in Japan. This movie has a universal theme. It is about love versus money. In a sense it is a very refreshing film to watch. The story does not have much depth to it. In contrast it is a very simple and straight-forward story of triumph and happiness. Perhaps living the simple life is key. Perhaps each and every one of us should look on to life as finding a passion and following it to the end. But what happens when one finds ones passion and loses it again? What happens if an individual does not know what the meaning of their life is and has no one to guide them into understanding it? What happens when the odds are against the individual making it so challenging to reaping any kinds of forward rewards? Is this movie superficial? Did it leave out the trial and tribulations, or was this movie about the exception rather then the rule? Existentialism is a positive and a negative emotion. Existentialism is about risk, which includes a possible success and a possible failure. Jiro Dreams of Sushi did show that the main character could not fail. He needed to succeed no matter how high the cost - and this one factor led the main character to succeed and to reach a level of absolute perfection. This level of perfection made the lead character feel very good about himself. In a sense this is a utopia. A utopia - one of complete balance and harmony with man and his relationship to nature.

Written by Annuska Canada
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Bow Down to the Master
p-sophistry29 August 2012
Somewhere in a Tokyo street, there is a sushi restaurant with ten seats. And at this restaurant, a very old "shokunin" named Jiro serves the world's finest sushi to his customers. He stands over them as they swallow, within seconds, something that has taken hours to prepare from a technique that has been cultivated over decades.

And how does Jiro run a sushi restaurant that has three Michelin Stars? In his own words, by doing "the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit." Jiro Dreams of Sushi gives us people – from rice dealers to tuna vendors – who are the best at what they do. These people move in worlds invisible to us: we are shown a tuna vendor with an inordinate amount of knowledge who inspects pieces of fish, seeing what we cannot, and our inexperienced eyes likewise prevent us from seeing the years of labor behind the simple sushi pieces that are put in front of the camera.

Our blindness is what Jiro Dreams of Sushi seeks to rectify. It unrelentingly displays the hours of work and crowds of world-class professionals (and apprentices) that are behind each piece of sushi. Shots of restaurant labor permeate the entire film, making us aware of the almost immeasurable effort behind a flavor, a technique, or a dish.

The film also dotes on the almost anticlimactic culmination of that effort: the camera captures, over and over again, the placing of a single, small, unelaborate piece of sushi on a flat plate. All of the lives shown to us in the film – with their achievements, crises, and memories – are completely subordinate to the craft, enthralled by the cube of rice and tuna that appears in front of customers who have waited months to taste it.

The score accompanies these displays perfectly: pieces from composers like Tchaikovsky and Philip Glass match the repetitive frenzy of the film's subjects and contributes to the sense that, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the lives of these craftsmen are almost forms of art themselves. Even Jiro's unconscious is obsessed with his craft – ideas about new dishes constantly throw him out of sleep. "Just when you think you know it all," says a fish vendor, "you realize that you're just fooling yourself." And that realization is the film's central paradox: Jiro "climbs to reach the top," but doesn't "know where that top is" – he struggles for perfection while recognizing the impossibility of that endeavor. And while this struggle may seem almost tragic, Jiro affirms that he is "ecstatic all day," never once hating his work after having given his life to it. These men are their craft, forever chasing that "ideal moment of deliciousness." Jiro's oldest son Yoshikazu faces a similar impossibility: the inevitability of his succession over his father. Yoshikazu wishes for his father's immortality only so he can "make sushi forever," relieving Yoshikazu of the burden of having to replace him. To many of those underneath Jiro, it seems that he is a form of perfection unto himself, equally unattainable. Jiro remains the ideal 'shokunin' – a craftsman who is almost transcendent in his skill and dedication, an artisan who does not understand the concept of retirement.

According to Jiro, shokunin get the highest quality of fish and apply their technique, caring only about improving their sushi. Money seems to be of no concern. And with all courses (created daily around market availability) starting at a price of 30 000 yen (around 377 Canadian dollars), there seems to be a lot money to not care about. But when a restaurant employs apprentices that have to labor exhaustively for at least ten years before they're allowed to cook the eggs, the prices start to seem less egregious. The one egg-cooker interviewed had cooked over 200 batches of egg sushi, over a period of months, before he made one that was acceptable to Jiro. When he finally had Jiro's approval, he cried. The title of shokunin would be earned years later, a title these chefs labor after for decades.

This is where there seems to be an odd irony to Jiro Dreams of Sushi, in that the immense weight of the labor behind each dish comes to rest upon the customer – Jiro places the sushi in front of you and watches you eat, and all of the customers (even prominent food critics) describe their nervousness about eating at "Sukiyabashi Jiro." An apprentice tells us that "all that matters is Jiro's approval," and the eating process seems to be as rigid and ritualistic as the culinary preparation itself.

Takashi, Jiro's younger son, runs a replica of his father's restaurant and claims that his customers appreciate his more relaxed atmosphere. Yet nervousness seems almost impossible to avoid – I'd be terrified of grossly offending Jiro by insisting for a fork or miso soup. The eating is almost too much of a performance, where the customer must actively participate in the "three movements" of Jiro's courses. Customers book months in advance, the seating arrangements are memorized, and Jiro even adjusts portion sizes according to his customers to maintain the pace of the meal.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi finds its strength in allowing its subjects to tell their own stories, and it is their narrations that accompany the movie's beautiful shots of sushi preparation. Jiro not only lends us insight into how these deceptively simple dishes are made, but allows us to meet and come to know a man who has worked for seventy-five years to perfect a food.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Hiro dreams of SASHIMI
danielkeough23 December 2012
a more accurate title, it seems.

I made it through the first 48:00 minutes and though it is a nice story of dedication to be the best at something, about Japanese culture, the length of the movie exceeded the point of it still being interesting for more than perhaps 30 minutes. A great story that could have been told in thirty minutes or so, was drawn out and made into a movie. There were certainly many interesting parts of the film, such as the focus on the succession of the eldest son, the restaurant winning awards like the Michelin award for excellence despite the restaurant only having ten seating units and no bathroom--no other restaurant has won this award with those conditions. I hope this review isn't drawn out too far, I was mandated to have ten lines despite only needing 6. Awesome work Jiro and staff!
6 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Like the recent documentary El Bulli: Cooking In Progress this film has limited appeal
gregking412 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Tucked away in a busy Tokyo subway is Sukiyabashi Jiro, a humble-looking sushi restaurant that only seats ten people. But this unassuming place is actually quite famous and has that rare distinction of having received a three star rating from the internationally respected Michelin guide. People come from all over the world to sample the culinary creations of the restaurant's head chef, 85 year old Jiro Ono. Patrons can wait months for a reservation. Meals here cost $300 for a 20 course meal consisting of different sushi recipes, all hand crafted, and the experience last for about 30 minutes. Quite expensive, but, by all accounts, well worth it. "For a fast eater, a meal there might last only 15 minutes, making it the most expensive meal in the world,'' comments Tokyo restaurant critic Yamamoto. In his first feature-length film, David Gelb gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of the restaurant and its legendary founder. There are some mouth-watering scenes of the painstaking food preparation, which will appeal to those people currently hooked on the raft of television cooking shows. Jiro himself has been working since he was nine, and he shows no sign of slowing down. He has a wonderful philosophy on working, parenting, and life itself. A workaholic from a young age, it's clear that Jiro has made numerous sacrifices along the way. He even acknowledges at one point that he wasn't much of a father to his children. We also get to meet his two sons Yoshikazu and Takashi. Yoshikazu is the elder son and faces the pressures of stepping into his father's shoes and taking over the legendary restaurant. The real tensions between father and son are subtly yet perceptively hinted at, although we get a hint of the pride he feels for his sons. Takashi, the younger son, has opened his own sushi restaurant in a shopping mall in Roppongi Hills, a suburb outside Tokyo. Gelb also includes some interviews with former sushi chefs who have worked with Jiro, and they talk about the high standards maintained by the perfectionist. We also hear from Tokyo restaurant critic Yamamoto, who hardly seems impartial in his glowing reviews of the restaurant, and the fish dealer who supplies Jiro. Gelb also takes us on a journey through Tokyo's massive and teeming Tsukiji fish market, but he only pays lip service to the problems concerning the environmental impacts of over fishing and the reliance on seafood. The film borders on hagiography at times, and there are scant biographical details that give us more insight into Jiro. There is some archival footage and a little bit of history, but Jiro remains essentially an enigma. Like the recent documentary El Bulli: Cooking In Progress this film has limited appeal. It is far too long for its thin subject matter, and the numerous scenes of food preparation eventually become repetitive. However, the film has been beautifully photographed by Gelb himself, using the Red Camera. The minimalist music score from Phillip Glass and Max Richter adds little to the overall film itself. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi would be better suited as a 50 minute documentary for television. While Jiro may dream of sushi, I dream only of getting back these 80 minutes of my life.
13 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Way more than just a documentary about sushi and sushi-making.
Boba_Fett113820 August 2012
Watching documentaries isn't really being my thing but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate watching a good one, from time to time. I can still easily get grabbed by certain subject matters and the subject for this documentary was being quite intriguing as well, though I have never eaten sushi in my life.

I didn't necessarily saw this documentary as one about sushi but more one about striving for perfection, day in day out and devote yourself entirely to just one thing in life. Striving for perfection is the best motivation and something that can keep you going. Thing about it is that you just never can be sure when you have reached your top, so every day is a new challenge to surpass the previous one.

It perhaps sounds like a very serious documentary but in fact it's being a perfectly light and pleasant one to watch. This also has a downside though, since this actually means that the movie never really goes deep enough into certain aspects. I for instance still don't know what Jiro Ono's initial motivation was to become a sushi chef and how he ended up being so big and respected in his line of business eventually. After finishing watching this documentary I also had the feeling I still knew very little about his personality and personal life. But this probably also has some to do with the Japanese culture, in which people just aren't all that open and hardly ever show their true thoughts and emotions, at least not on camera. There isn't being any 'conflict' in this documentary. Everybody is saying nothing but good and positive things, while you feel that there are much more underlying going on between Jiro and his sons but the documentary really doesn't elaborate or go deeper into any of this.

It didn't prevented this documentary from being a good and interesting one though. It was still fascinating to see all the work and preparations that goes into making sushi and how Ono and his apprentices, including his oldest son, constantly keep maintaining the same high standards of quality and constantly are eager looking for ways to improve their products and their own skills.

Thing that also definitely make this a good watch is its visual style. It's an extremely well shot documentary, with some great camera-work as well as editing in it. It makes this perhaps feel more like a movie, rather than a documentary but in this case I say that as a good thing.

I definitely had a good time watching this documentary but at the same time by the end of it, I didn't really feel that I got enough out of it.


3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A lovely ode on craftsmanship
EephusPitch28 March 2012
Jiro Ono is proprietor and master chef of a tiny, 10 seat sushi restaurant which just happens to have garnered 3 stars in Michelin's debut guide to Tokyo. This film explores Jiro's obsession with providing his customers with the closest approximation sushi can achieve to perfection. At turns moving and risible, this film at times feels like a missing segment to Juzo Itami's masterful TAMPOPO, absurdly extended. The filming of the sushi is so consistently gorgeous that I found myself becoming increasingly hungry as the film went on, but then I have always been a sucker for food movies; included on my all-time roster would be EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN, BIG NIGHT, and the aforementioned TAMPOPO, any of which are guaranteed to get me thinking fond thoughts of some of my favorite eateries. So, on leaving the Embarcadero Cinema, did I immediately seek out the nearest sushi joint to satisfy my craving? Did I, hell: I went straight to Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store. There's umami, and there's umami: the umami engendered by Mario's breaded eggplant focaccia sandwich, peperoncini, and a pint of Anchor Steam will stand up to any.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
If you love sushi you MIGHT like this documentary
KineticSeoul20 December 2012
A magazine I was reading recommended this movie out of couple of other movies. Which peaked my interest to see this movie. I thought it was going to be a deep and invigorating movie about a guy obsessed with sushi perfection. But there really isn't anything deep when it comes to the story and doesn't add anything new to the documentary style movies. In fact this movie doesn't really have a story. It seemed more like a advertisement movie and a flick to show out great Jiro is at making sushi. Like it's a movie to boost Jiro's status cause all he does is brag about himself and others around him praise his methods constantly throughout this movie. If it was something groundbreaking or life changing I would probably go with it. But it's about sushi...Don't get me wrong I like sushi. It's one of my favorite food. It's well documented but it didn't stick with me or think differently about sushi when it was over. It also shows how they get top notch ingredients from experts of those ingredients to make the best sushi possible. Which was cool since it gives credit where credit is due. Or maybe it's too lengthen the running time. Most of the run time is taken up showing how a lot of effort is put into making the sushi. But you never know for sure since things might be different when the camera is on. The main aspect that drives this documentary is the music, it just makes everything seem epic and mysterious. Despite some slow motion scenes that try to add to the epicness of it all. Most of the people in this movie that show there occupation constantly mention they are not in it for the money but there passion. Which might be partly true, but I have this feeling that money takes up most of the percentage of it all by the direction it goes. The main part about this documentary that stood out for me is the part where it shows how too much fishing can lead to extinction of certain fishes. And how fishing should be done moderately without killing off the younger ones to make profit. But most of the way through it just seemed like a giant advertisement and I am pretty sure this movie will increase their sales and reputation.

4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I'm Not a Sushi Fan but This Won Me
Michael_Elliott23 August 2012
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

*** (out of 4)

Informative documentary taking a look at Jiro, a sushi maker who owns a small restaurant in a subway that seats ten people with each plate going for $300. That might seem like a lot of money but Jiro has reservations that need to be put in a month ahead and his work is considered the greatest sushi on the planet. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a pretty impressive documentary for a number of reasons but the biggest is the fact that it tells Jiro's interesting life story and it also makes you feel as if you're an expert on sushi. I will admit that I've never tasted sushi and I never will. There's not a single part of me that wishes to eat it and I must admit that the thought of doing so makes my stomach rumble. With that said, even though I'm not interested in the food, I couldn't help but be drawn into Jiro's world and I found it to be incredible interesting for several reasons. Jiro's work ethic is something that anyone could admire. The way he expects perfection in his food is something else admirable and not to mention that he's never happy and constantly wants to do better each time he prepares a meal. The documentary also goes into detail about him passing his business down to his son and the pressure that is on him to live up to his father's standards. Another fun aspect of the film deals with how Jiro selects his rice and various fish sources. We see them travel to various fish markets and they explain what they look for and there's even some talk about the lowering quality of fish. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a pretty fun film and at just 82-minutes it never wears out its welcome. I'm sure fans of sushi will enjoy it even more.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Ridiculously Overrated
broken-stairs26 September 2015
This movie popped up many times in my Netflix stream and I ignored it because it didn't really sound interesting. Eventually, I decided to give it a shot; something so highly rated on IMDb is worth it. I watched the movie with my family at home, who are not an easy crowd and I often defend my choices against their harsh opinions.

However, this time, what a bore! This movie has no conflict. You've got a man whose story was that he was poor and became a sushi master (this is maybe 5 minutes of the movie). There is no critique of the chef, just endless praise.

A couple things are interesting, such as the fish shopping and the difficulties the workers experience due to the perfectionism of Jiro. The other good aspect is the cinematography. Beautiful shots of sushi placed on plates. There is a little more information about Jiro's philosophy of food.

The rest of the movie I can't even recall. It's slow, uninformative, and completely biased. There is nothing to keep your attention in this film. I find nothing interesting about a chef who is good at his specialty and maintains an unopposed mastery of it.

If they wanted to make this a good movie and Jiro is really "perfect," at least show critics of his food being berated for not liking the food. Another thing that would have made this interesting is to learn more about the fish market or spend more than just a few minutes on the history of sushi or his upbringing. These things feel like footnotes to a long standing ovation to someone who has mastered sushi.

I just can't believe the almost unanimous positive reaction the film gets. I was so disappointed, I had to give my two cents. I have defended many movies to my family but besides what I mentioned above as positives, I couldn't find anything to outweigh the dragging pace and conflict-less story of Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
the art of sushi
chrisn-cn25 June 2014
A simple 10 seat restaurant without restroom. If you want to eat there book a month in advance cost at least 30,000 yen no appetizers only the finest sushi. Michelin Guide awarded Sukiyabashi Jiro three stars meaning worth the trip to Japan. The first sushi restaurant to have the honor. Its all achieve behind the scenes by the preparations by his apprentices and his same attitude supplier/handlers. His apprentices goes through 10 year training if you can make it that long you can consider to be a first class sushi chef. First they hot hand towel the guest after that they can prepare the fish and after 10 years learn to cook the egg sushi. His quality of food is achieve by his trusted vendors specialize with their area of expertise. His tuna vendors only deals with tuna his shrimp vendors only deals with shrimps. Even he has a certain method of cooking rice , his rice vendor only sells certain rice to Jiro saying he wont sell his rice because only Jiro knows how to cook it properly.

He admits that relationship with his sons when they were children wasn't the best.It is a tradition for the oldest to take over the family business so older son have to live up to the expectation. It will hard to follow a great mans footstep. The younger son open up his own sushi restaurant, a similar restaurant the interior is just reverse to the interior of his father and since he feels his sushi is not as good as his father his prices are cheaper. The film only capture the aspects of the restaurant but not much of his personal life. A couple mentions of his parents. Not sure if there is a wife because there no mentioning.

The way David Gelb directed itself work of art. The sequence of scenes classical music playing in the background while they preparing the ingredients combined with the narration and close up of the finish sushi. The close up on the hands making the sushi. Yamamoto is says Jiro is maestro of an orchestra. Jiro have a keen eye for details from the seat arrangements making the sushi smaller for the ladies so it doesn't interrupt the flow noticing if the guest are left handed. describe Jiro sushi course like sonata his course in 3 movements : first classic fish like tuna and halibut the second an improvisation on the fresh catch of the day. the Final movement close with eel and egg.

If you enjoy sushi you will enjoy this documentary. At 85 Jiro Ono still working hard to hone his craft. No tricks or shortcuts just hard work and dedication. David Gelb gives a behind the scene on Sukiyabashi Jiro a three star Michelin restaurant giving insight on his methods of madness. Mentioning to the camera you shouldn't complain about your work always improve your skill. As a sushi master he makes sure that everything is up to his standard.From his supplier to his apprentices preparing the ingredients so he can make high quality sushi. Simply a perfectionist he is truly a man with passionate a master in the art of sushi.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The beauty is in the craftsmanship but the characters are interesting too
bob the moo13 May 2013
This film has had plenty of positive praise and it is part of the reason that it came to a wider audience however this also poses the problem that perhaps the casual viewer expects more of it than the film ever proposes to deliver. For me I wasn't sure what to expect but being a fan of sushi (although I do not think I have ever eaten "amazing", but at least good and very good) and also having recently visited Japan, I figured that it would interest me on at least some level. Many people have said what they took from the film – whether it is the story of the pursuit of perfection or the loving shots which they call "food porn" but for me the main thing was the work.

The film is about the beauty of craftsmanship. The sushi is prepared with pride, with a technique and with an expertise that is great to watch. It isn't that you are watching cooking as you would see on a Sunday morning with a celebrity chef, but rather you are watching a craft – not unlike someone doing painstaking mechanical work on a priceless watch or something like this. It helps of course to like sushi and seafood but even without this I imagine many will find this side fascinating. The film covers this element into the selection process in the markets as well and I found it very interesting even if by itself it doesn't quite fill 90 minutes.

The film makes up the difference thanks to the characters involved in the film. Jiro is driven but warm and indeed his sons are too. I liked that, although the work culture and mindset of Japanese people was not expressly laid out, there was certainly a lot here which captured it and was of interest. It doesn't ever go deep enough to become a character piece, which in some ways is a limiting factor in the film but mostly is for the best as this isn't what it is trying to do, but mostly it stays at a level which engages and compliments the focus on the craft.

It isn't an amazing film but it does have a certain beauty to it and I think for many people the core will be this sense of perfection and of creating something very precise with a skill that is honed. The camera captures that very well and, while many of the images look delicious, it was the precision of them that really appealed to me. Don't expect to be blown away by it, but there is a certain amount of beauty to this film.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good insight into Japanese culture
keachs14 October 2012
Many people would categorize this as a "foodie" movie. Yes the main character is a sushi chef, and the food scenes are beautifully shot, but I felt that the film dealt with a topic much deeper than food, but of the purpose of life itself. One obviously has to respect Jiro and what he has accomplished in his life, but it seemed there were some thing missing for a life lived at that high of a level. His wife never appears in the movie, apart from a b/w picture. You rarely see Jiro smile. And the most telling part is that many of his customers felt intimidated dining in the presence of such a great master.

I see this film highlighting a basic structural cornerstone in Japanese society, the concept of respect. From what I can see and have experienced, respect is the highest honor that can be paid in Japanese society, and Jiro has achieved it. Respect from his customers, his peers, his family. I saw the love of perfection Jiro had for the art of creating sushi. I'm not sure if there was love shown for his family and sons who were carrying on the tradition.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed