DOCember: Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012)

Directed by David Gelb

The wonder of cinema comes to life with this documentary about a lovely old Japanese man who has worked his life away in a subway tunnel, running what is now considered the best Sushi restaurant in the world, bar none. His name is Jiro Ono and has been working since he was a young boy who was thrust into the world. He soon found out what hard work meant, what it took. And lucky for him, he found his calling as a sushi chef. I for one am not the biggest fan of sushi, though I have not tried much of it. But lucky for me, this is not a film about sushi. The sushi happens to be circumstantial. Instead, this is a film about a man, his work ethic, and the ability to harness your passion by making it your life’s work.

There are few who get the opportunity to live their passion, to make it their work. Jiro has gone into work nearly everyday for over 60 years, and done it joyfully. Would he even call it work, I wonder? But what makes Jiro unique is his drive to always be the best. He seeks out the best vendors to do business with, to get the best, most fresh fish each morning. The perfect the prep, or else start all over again. He exemplifies the ideal of delivering only the highest of quality. He continues to push himself, and because of this he is able to continue moving forward and never stop to either rest on his laurels, or to come to the realization that he is a man in his 80s who has not taken a day off from being the best, from striving for perfection for about 60-70 years. And he hopes he never has to.

It is an incredible tale told with great passion itself. To watch the master at work is like watching a great musician connect to crowds with sounds. Jiro’s food does that to his customers. Not liking sushi, I found myself with the constant urge to want to devour Jiro’s works of art. They looked so good, and you knew they were crafted with the utmost care. There was no substitute for being average or mediocre. The money was a non-issue. Sure, the prices at Jiro’s restaurant are a little insanely high one would think, but something must pay for the perfection Jiro seeks, for the hours spent prepping, and re-prepping. For getting only the best supplies, only the best apprentices. A truly beautiful film about a man of passion. The type of man who is lucky to go to work everyday to do what he loves, but also the kind who knows what it means, and what it takes, to become the best, and maintain that seat atop the mountain of greatness.

***1/2 – Great

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