One of the films I have seen recently, and one I am pushing on anyone who seems to have a vague interest in films beyond the summer blockbuster is the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi. A documentary film focussed on the 85 year old sushi chef (itamae) Jiro Ono, this film explores his success, his passion for his craft, his philosophy on perfection and his relationships with his two sons, in particular his heir Yoshikazu. It is the latter two items that are the real stars of the show.
Jiro owns the Michelin three star sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro that is considered one of the best in Tokyo (the recommended special course costs 30,000yen - roughly £200). His son Yoshikazu, fifty, still works for him and will one day take over the running of the restaurant. It is this dynamic that forms the heart of the film, exploring their relationship, expectations and ongoing pursuit of perfection that defines both of them, even if they originate from Jiro.
The other fascinating dynamic is the idea of perfection, and Jiro's constant search to reach it, to better everything that has been done before. Everything is observed, considered, changed, all in this search for a better sushi. The ingredients, preparation, creation, the recipes, even the placement of the diners (depending on their handedness) are tinkered with, all with careful thought and a consideration to the end product.
Jiro himself is intriguing; a simple man made complex by his passion and obsession with better and better sushi. His son stands in the shadow, working relentlessly under that expectation of perfection and improvement, and the almost silent interplay between the two as they test their sushi is magical to behold.
The film is utterly fascinating, and beautifully shot. The food itself is an art-form of visual enticement, in all its simplicity. And Jiro and Yoshikazu provide the most human of relationships, that between a parent and a child.
I haven't done it justice, but this is a film worth watching, whatever your interest in food and sushi may be.