Jiro Dreams Of Sushi: Review

10 Apr

When I saw the trailer for Jiro Dreams of Sushi a couple of months back, I immediately regretted it. How was I supposed to wait until April?

I knew and expected Jiro Dreams of Sushi to be visually stunning but until I saw it in theatres last night, did not know just how sexy it would be—which is odd for a movie where 98% of the people in it were 50+.

Most of us will go into to the theatre expecting a 90-minute tease show of sushi in slo-mo; but it is really an overarching meditation on the ideals of perfectionism, work ethic, and passion. Jiro’s secret is really in his perseverance, meticulous attention for perfection, and personal responsibility for the food he makes for others.

The fish dealers involved in Jiro’s business struck me as particularly memorable. I admit an odd attraction to the Yakuza-esque tuna dealer who claims to be a bit “anti-establishment.” If anything comes close to a sensory escalation, it would be the tuna market sequence as the brokers chant in chaotic cadence. Like the documentary in its entirety, this sequence is just so surreal.

Aesthetically, David Gelb achieves the impossible by documenting food in a way that would be appealing to all the senses, not just taste. Scored primarily to a selection of classical and modern orchestral pieces, Gelb uses the repetitive bars of these compositions in accumulation. They embody Jiro’s artistry but their simplicity reflects his commitment to doing the same thing everyday until the accumulation of small improvements results in something astounding.

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of synesthesia—the mixing and crossing of the senses where one can touch music, taste color, see fragrance etc. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the closest synesthetic encounter I have ever experienced. It reflects the message of the documentary, really. That sushi is more than just rice and fish. It’s an incredibly sensory experience that involves each of the senses; and a good sushi chef like Jiro, takes advantage of that knowledge. Gelb does a commendable job of translating that degree of involvement in each close-up, slow motion rendering, and amplified soundtrack of knife slicing through tuna.

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