This could play in a documentary triple bill following two other great filmed portraits from last year, Buck and Bill Cunningham: New York. Like those films, Jiro Dreams of Sushi takes a well-rounded look at an obsessive we somehow want to revere; in this case, a Tokyo master sushi chef whose little train-station bar earned three Michelin Stars and costs a minimum $200 per visit. (Nobody seems to mind the price.)
But also like those films, we watch torn between envy for Jiro’s artisan perfection — the film’s chief joy comes from watching him cut and form the most basic raw fish and rice dishes — and pity for the people that surround the master. It gets a little claustrophobic inside this wonderfully-detailed kitchen, so much so that a flight out of the restaurant and into Tokyo’s famed fish market feels like wondrous vacation. Still, Jiro is none the less mesmerizing. His pickiness about such seemingly minor matters as seating implies the deepest levels of artistic behavior, and genius and the devil are in the details. His sons, whose inevitable legacy the film also examines with pained beauty, seem cursed and blessed.
Don’t watch this film if you are low on funds and will happen to walk by one of our town’s many fine raw fish emporiums, you might drop a bundle, but do see it if you ever wondered how to live and eat well in a fallen world.