The first sushi chef awarded the premium three-star Michelin award is the subject of David Gelb’s first documentary. The twenty-eight-year-old New Yorker profiles eighty-five-year-old Jiro Ono, who runs Sukiyabashi Jiro in the subway level of the Tsukamoto Sogyo Building in Tokyo. Mostly shot on the premises of this pricey ten-seat eatery, along with a few bike rides to local fish markets, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is an admiring profile of an artisan. Gelb partakes of Jiro’s painstaking craft with elegant framings of his handiwork. The tony score overserves music by Philip Glass and Max Richter, along with bites of Bach, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Gelb fetishizes Jiro’s work ethic but fails to capture the ineffables. “What defines deliciousness?” asks the chef, in a rare musing on aesthetics. The epicurean on the screen is Masuhiro Yamamoto, a Tokyo food critic and Jiro fan who served as a go-between for the filmmaker, who speaks little Japanese. Jiro’s lifelong fixation on repeating and perfecting his amalgam of raw fish and rice assemblies registers more as duty than quest. No dreamer, his true devotion is living a life of focus. He admits he has not been much of a father. His eldest son works under him; the other runs his own sushi restaurant. They are trainees, not kin. 81m. (Bill Stamets)
“Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” opens Friday at Landmark Century.