The Bear, series review available on Disney+ (2022)

The setting in which it takes placeThe Bear”, already considered one of the series of the year by all specialized critics, including those who write to you, has been a testing ground, a shooting range, for a whole series of filmmakers and screenwriters, who have searched in kitchens, and in its unpredictability, tension and obvious sensory appeal, a context to develop stories over the last few years, most of the time, without fruit, or with a bad result. The stew burned, the filmmakers stuck to the bottom of the pot. A place as sacred in popular tradition as kitchens, which has come to life (r)evolved in recent decades with the rise and fall of haute cuisine and the arrival of star chefs, had been successfully captured, with more or less pleasure, through books like the notorious “Kitchen’s Confidential”, from the ill-fated Anthony Bourdain, even from television programs, such as the less and less culinary Masterchef or the adventures around the world of Jamie Oliver. Television is the true home of cooking on screens. Only “Ratatouille”perhaps not as paradoxically as we might think, has made life in the kitchen a magnum opus, at the level of a stage that functions as a character in itself.

Television fiction had not found the key, with the right amounts of seasoning and cooking, to offer a series that reflected, with style and depth, life in a restaurant kitchen until it appeared “The Bear”. The series created by Christopher Storer and whose brilliant cast is led by a brilliant Jeremy Allen White (“Shameless”), of which, by the way, I was unaware of its success among absolutely all the women of my generation with whom I have discussed the premiere, is a terribly well filmed wonder, with an unmistakable air of American costumbrista tradition, which not only highlights the universe of high and low gastronomy, pitting them against each other, but uses this dichotomy to tell a story of loss and pain, of families and professional ambition, of humanity in its broadest conception. In just four hours, what could have been a long film divided into chapters of less than thirty minutes, extends to touch much of the recesses of the human soul. The imprint of the past, of the family and of the setbacks in life, the contained rage that swirls, waiting to become depression or violence, and the burden of the backpacks that life or we hang on our backs, share the leading role with the assumption of Carmen –Carmy– (Jeremy the handsome) of the neighborhood restaurant that his older brother ran after his suicide. Carmen comes from succeeding in haute cuisine, in a universe as demanding and psychopathic as all elite professional universes where her members also consume the sin of creative arrogance.

Despite certain gaps that the narration fails to address precisely, passing them slightly above, such as the relationship of the older brother Mickey with drugs, of which apparently nobody knew anything and that nothing influences the final result, “The Bear” it’s honest enough to be moving and entertaining at the same time. There is an aura of comfort film in the series, of those stories that we imagine seeing on a Sunday afternoon at home with the rain falling behind the windows, after a stew and after a nap, and a connection with the protagonist’s desire for redemption and his will to change his present in the face of the impossibility of doing the same with the past that are charming.

The direction of Christopher Storer and his people is balanced and vibrant at the same time. Being “The Bear” a low-budget series, where the story is the protagonist, certain very promising style exercises emerge, which end up being consolidated in the great seventh episode, shot in one go in one of the best sequence shots I remember, one of those that takes a long time time to recognize as such. The sequence shot is a resource in which the action often replaces the story, or at least interrupts it, in a display of virtuosity that, well executed, is spectacular. This penultimate episode of the series, on the other hand, combines technical virtue with narrative content; sequence yes, but also story.

“The Bear” It is a brilliant series in its moral chiaroscuro, patient in its development and that executes its last bars well, always so in check in a television fiction that focuses more on proposing than on solving. The culinary metaphor, although predictable, becomes inevitable: choose your favorite recipe and think that the series executes it perfectly. Delicious, definitely.

The Bear, series review available on Disney+ (2022)