“… while it did a good job of incorporating both personal stories and stories that focused on the food, the mixture of those was a little off.”
After approximately six years of good intentions last night I finally got around to watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The documentary follows Jiro, an 80-year-old Japanese man who makes what almost everyone can agree on is the most delicious sushi in the world. The film discusses his process for making the sushi, but also talks about him as a person.
So right off the bat I found Jiro Dreams of Sushi to be mesmerizing. I don’t care what it is, but I can watch someone who is talented or passionate do anything. The love that Jiro has for every single aspect of his food, for every single piece of sushi shines through the screen and infects you with a strange sense of accomplishment. It’s almost like his pride is contagious. And seeing the entire process, including the procuring of the fish is very interesting as well. It shows that there is great care taken at every level, and it helps you respect the process.
But Jiro Dreams of Sushi wasn’t just about the food. I found that the documentary was kind of a pseudo-telling of the impact of traditional Japanese values. The beautiful shots of Jiro preparing the sushi everyone loves are interspersed with sound bites of him saying things to the effect of ‘you can never work too hard’, and ‘parents who support their children by giving them a place to go back to are setting them up for failure’. These moments would have felt out of place in an otherwise wholesome documentary, but you have to remember where Jiro came from and when he grew up. It’s no surprise that he shares these views when that is what was taught to him in his life.
And that’s kind of the first problem I have with Jiro Dreams of Sushi: I found that the movie, while it did a good job of incorporating both personal stories and stories that focused on the food, the mixture of those was a little off. It’s like when you have a burrito and your first bite is a nice mix of ingredients, followed by a bite that is just rice, followed by a few bites that are mainly meat, followed by the last bite which is just guacamole. Jiro Dreams of Sushi kind of loses focus, especially towards the end. But it didn’t really lose focus becasue the focus was always partially on Jiro, but my point is that the way the movie was edited made the audience forget this fact for a while. The beginning had a nice mix of the two topics, but as it went on the viewpoint shifted almost entirely to sushi. This means that when it switched back it felt out of place; and becasue it did this right at the end it felt tacked-on.
Overall Jiro Dreams of Sushi was an amazing watch, but it’s not without its issues. Though the film delivered an interesting story with the production of Jiro’s sushi, I felt the focus kind of got lost towards the end.
I give Jiro Dreams of Sushi a B