movies
672 views 0 comments

East Side Sushi

by on October 17, 2014
Details
 
Editor Rating
 
Total Yaps

Yaps

Hover To Rate
User Rating
 
Total Yaps

Yaps
1 rating

You have rated this

 

East Side Sushi is directed by Anthony LuceroA sweet, inspiring movie about food, family and culture, “East Side Sushi” is something more. Don’t let it fool you: Beneath a delicate veneer is a tough, scrappy little picture.

“Sushi” stars Diana Elizabeth Torres as Juana, a single mom living in Oakland. She operates a small fruit cart in her neighborhood with her father (Rodriguo Duarte Clark) and her young child. Juana is frustrated at her inability to find a good job in the U.S., though she’s a more than competent chef. Her father has health issues but is content with the meager income the cart brings in.

Juana, wanting more after being robbed, applies for a dishwashing job at a sushi restaurant. There she meets Chef Aki (Yutaka Takeuchi), who takes a liking to Juana and notices her eagerness and ability with a knife. Juana begins learning to make sushi, and shows skill, not realizing she is immersing herself in a culture that claims women can’t make sushi because their hands are too warm.

Soon Juana wants a promotion, but the store’s stolid, traditional owner (Roger Oyama) steadfastly refuses. Still, she continues to learn, eyeballing a sushi competition that will lend her legitimacy and a lot of cash.

Director Anthony Lucero creates a boot camp obstacle course of cultural barriers for Juana to climb: She’s a Hispanic single mother immigrant in the U.S.; her father’s prejudices against Japanese food (there are excellent scenes where Juana prods him to try sushi, until he finally does); the Japanese culture that forbids women from being a sushi chef, plus the fact that she is a racial outsider.

Still, Torres puts on a brave face throughout, imbuing Juana with a steadfast, resolute sense of pride in herself. She’s not willing to compromise even in the face of easy money; we see her choose to give up jobs because they aren’t fulfilling to her. She gives a terrific performance.

There does seem to be a bit too much going on all at once, and the movie awkwardly shifts gears away from the sushi restaurant to bring in the sushi competition that she snuck into as a Hispanic woman by disguising her name. It seems unlikely that a well-produced show, even an Internet production, would fail to properly vet its contestants.

But “Sushi” has plenty of charm and makes some interesting choices along the way. In a Hollywood movie, Aki and Juana would have become romantically entangled; here, he seems more like a big brother sticking up for a sibling. He is her greatest ally, and that romance doesn’t confound their relationship is refreshing.

If you attend the Heartland Film Festival, I can think of no better movie to put your money down on than “East Side Sushi.” It’s a warm, inviting movie that entertains and inspires.

Comments

comments

Be the first to comment!
 
Leave a reply »

 

You must log in to post a comment