The 87-year-old Tokyo restauranteur Jiro Ono works relentlessly to serve sushi which meets his own super-exacting standards – for which customers brave daunting prices, and the near-impossibility of booking a mere ten counter seats. Such is the apex of Tokyo’s culinary scene, according to this film portrait, where access to the establishment’s inner workings looks like the trade-off for 81 minutes of glib promo. Jiro’s skills and dedication are never in doubt, but director David Gelb buys into the idea of the gnomic, oriental seer (Yoda with a sharp knife) to such a degree that he never convinces us why Jiro’s so different from his peers. Boasting little in the way of structure or conflict, and lumbered with obvious Philip Glass music cues, this offers meagre filmmaking accomplishment, yet the subject is absolutely fascinating for food-lovers. The exquisite nigiri slices gleam with freshness, and you do learn about the component parts to the perfect serving of sea eel or gizzard shad.
Friday January 11 2013