The Times: TV pick of the week: My Brilliant Friend

On The Times

Victoria Segal – Nov 18, 2018

An Italian-language adaptation of the first book in Elena Ferrante’s much-adored series of Neapolitan novels, My Brilliant Friend focuses on the poverty-stricken and violence-blighted childhoods of Elena (Elisa Del Genio, pictured on left) and Lila (Ludovica Nasti, on right). The two brightest girls in their school, they form an alliance in the chaotic and often frightening world of 1950s Naples. The director, Saverio Costanzo, has captured all the violence and vibrancy of the girls’ neighbourhood, a place of overcrowded schools, squalling babies and packed funerals, where neighbours shout intimate conversations between balconies, women hurl pots and irons from windows in terrible outbursts of rage, and a man who has crossed a loan shark might suddenly fly through the air and slam into a wall. Under the endless bright sunlight, My Brilliant Friend feels very dark, full of ominous foreshadowing, yet the two expressive young leads shine through as they subtly weigh up a turbulent universe and their place in it.
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