Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
April 5, 2012
*** (out of four)
Like many of us, Jiro Oro possesses an intense love of sushi. Unlike the rest of us, the award-winning Japanese chef knows first-hand the value of massaging an octopus for 40-50 minutes to give it a soft texture. I mean, when I massage an octopus, it’s just for my own relaxation.
In “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” this 85-year-old master, the oldest chef to earn a three-star Michelin rating, demonstrates a formula for success through the unrelenting pursuit of perfection. Jiro inspires his disciples, consisting of his sons and other aspiring sushi masterminds, because nothing less than meticulous preparation and peak flavor will suffice. This man, who’s worked with sushi for 75 years and only misses work for national holidays and funerals, exists as a model for the kind of disciplined, passionate life’s work everyone should be so lucky to find and hold onto.
Director David Gelb’s documentary remains a certain distance from the intricacies of what makes Jiro’s techniques and sushi so much better than anyone else’s, and ultimately the wisdom that comes from long-developed intuition struggles to come through on film. Yet the movie captures the dedication Jiro developed as a child and passed along to his kids, spending more time with them at the restaurant (which serves only sushi) than he ever did at home. For those of us who will likely never taste Jiro’s work, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” serves as an affectionate introduction to the man and an increased impatience that the technology doesn’t yet exist to eat items off of the screen.
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