This morning we saw my 6th and J’s 7th film of the 2012 Wisconsin Film Festival. Jiro Dreams of Sushi was the only WFF film this year with food as its primary focus, so of course I wanted to check it out. The fact that it has gotten almost universally positive reviews (it’s 98% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) was also encouraging. The movie features mouthwatering images alongside the story of restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro, its 85-year-old exacting sushi master Jiro Ono, and his apprentices who include his two sons. The tiny 10-seat restaurant earned a coveted 3-star rating from the Michelin Guide, and the movie focuses on the attention to detail required to achieve such high accolades. The film was quite enjoyable, though is not without its flaws. As NPR’s Mark Jenkins notes (and I concur), director David Gelb “didn’t shoot during regular business hours, so the film lacks the spontaneity and serendipity of cinema-verite documentaries” and “the [musical] accompaniment is obtrusive at times.” Also, as Nicolas Rapold at The New York Times accurately comments, “Like many other such portraits, it wastes valuable time declaring its subject’s excellence that could be spent fleshing out demonstrations, explanations, context.” That said, the film is definitely worth a viewing. It is currently rolling out across the country, so head here to see when it will be in your area.
In the meantime, check out this interview with the movie’s director by Emily Ackerman of Tribeca Film, and watch the official trailer below.