Fast Company: HBO gives the world more Ferrante with “My Brilliant Friend” season 2

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan saga will continue to unfold on the small screen, with the adaptation of “The Story of a New Name.”

On Fast Company

Dec 4, 2018 – Nicole Laporte

Ferrante Fever continues at HBO. The company announced that the second novel in Elena Ferrante’s best-selling Neapolitan series, The Story of a New Name, will be adapted for TV, coming on the heels of HBO and RAI’s production of the saga’s first book, My Brilliant Friend, which will wrap up on Dec. 9. 

The Story of a New Name continues the journey and friendship of Lila and Lenù, two friends who form an intense childhood bond in the working class neighborhood of postwar Naples. The four books in Ferrante’s series track their lives over the course of multiple decades against a backdrop of mafioso activity, intellectualism, and growing socialism and feminism. 

The books have sold over 10 million copies and have a cult-like following stoked by the mysterious nature of Ferrante, a pseudonymous author whose true identity has been the subject of a global parlor game

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KCRW: ‘My Brilliant Friend:’ How the popular novel was adapted for TV


The new HBO series “My Brilliant Friend” is an adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Italian novel that became a worldwide sensation. The series is set in Naples, and revolves around two young girls. How does the nove translate to television?

Jennifer Schuur, Executive Producer, HBO’s “My Brilliant Friend”
Ann Goldstein, Neapolitan Quartet

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The New York Times: ‘My Brilliant Friend’: A Fairy Tale of Youth Gives Way to Messy Adolescence

On The New York Times

Gal Beckerman, Alicia DeSantis, Nicole Herrington – Nov 26, 2018

This conversation includes spoilers for the first four episodes of “My Brilliant Friend.”

Episode 3 of “My Brilliant Friend” opens with two new actresses playing Lenù (Margherita Mazzucco) and Lila (Gaia Girace), who are now teenagers. The girls’ lives are also diverging in new ways: Lenù is heading to a classical high school in Naples; Lila is working with her brother in her father’s shoe repair store. But that doesn’t mean they are any less competitive, and puberty brings new ways for Lenù to measure herself against her old friend. Meanwhile, tensions mount as a new generation of men vie for power in the neighborhood along battle lines drawn by their parents.

Once a week, over the four weeks the series airs on HBO, we are gathering a rotating group of Elena Ferrante fans from across The New York Times newsroom to discuss the show. You can read our discussion of the first two episodes here.

This week, Nicole Herrington and Alicia DeSantis, editors on the Culture desk, and Gal Beckerman, an editor on the Books desk, jump into Episodes 3 and 4.

GAL BECKERMAN As the third episode opens, we get a time jump that moves Lenù and Lila into their teenage years of burgeoning sexual awareness and acne trouble. I was impressed with how seamless the transition was between the child and teenage actresses who play the girls, and especially the opening, which smartly and swiftly uses a dream sequence to move it all forward. But there were other ways that the show, in its design choices, signaled the other big transition, a shift in perspective from the parent’s world to the children’s. Same streets, but not so drab and gray. There were pops of color. A bit more life and possibility in a passing pastel pink dress. Part of this was the move from the 1940s into the postwar boom of the 1950s, but it also gave the visceral sense of youth emerging into their own, claiming the neighborhood.

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The Guardian: My Brilliant Friend review – a beautiful adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s tale

This authentic take on the first Neapolitan novel is the most honest and vivid portrait of the lives of young girls ever brought to TV

On The Guardian

Rebecca Nicholson – Nov 19, 2018

Adapting much-loved books for the screen is risky and can be fraught, especially if a series has been as adored as Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. The characters live so vividly in readers’ minds that their TV forms may only be able to exist on a sliding scale of disappointment.

Thankfully, Saverio Costanza’s take on the first instalment, 2012’s My Brilliant Friend (Sky Atlantic), comes with an understated, solid confidence that suits its source material perfectly. Ferrante, whoever she may be, is credited as one of four writers on the show, so it is little wonder that it feels authentic, but this is a gorgeous TV show on its own merits.

It is unlikely that anyone who read the novels would expect a boisterous affair, but, even so, the first episode (of eight) unravels at a notably unhurried pace. This languid approach may be a turn-off for some, but it has a steady-handed charm. By the end of the first hour, we know Lenù and Lila as if we are close friends. Perhaps more perilous than trampling over beloved stories is relying on child actors to carry them, as is necessary in episode one, but Elisa del Genio, as Lenù, and Ludovica Nasti, as Lila, are remarkable. As fights and disagreements rise and fall around the girls, Costanza’s direction lingers on their expressive faces; the arduous casting process, which reportedly took months, was clearly worth it.

For those who have not read Ferrante’s novels – nobody should have trouble getting into the TV series, regardless of whether they have or not – the story begins when Elena (Lenù), at this point in her 60s, receives a phone call from the son of her childhood friend Lila. Lila is missing; she has taken her clothes with her and has cut up family photographs. Elena’s response is muted and eventually cold, teasing of a long and complicated past. “Learn to live on your own,” she advises him, suggesting she is unlikely to win an award for compassion any time soon: “And don’t call me again, either.”

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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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The New Yorker

Hillary Clinton Looks Back in Anger


(…) Clinton spent a lot of time around the house. She read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels of friendship, becoming, and abandonment. She returned to the work of Henri Nouwen, a Dutch-born priest and theologian who wrote about his struggles with depression, spirituality, and loneliness. She consumed mystery novels: Louise Penny, Donna Leon, Charles Todd. She went to her granddaughter’s dance recital. She watched old episodes of “The Good Wife” and “Madam Secretary,” even if that seemed a little on the nose. She teared up watching Kate McKinnon on “Saturday Night Live” singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” (“I did my best, it wasn’t much . . .”) She went through scores of articles about Russian meddling, offshore “content farms,” Trump-family misadventures. “At times,” she writes, “I felt like C.I.A. agent Carrie Mathison on the TV show Homeland, desperately trying to get her arms around a sinister conspiracy and appearing more than a little frantic in the process.” She also spent time thinking about what she might do in the future, “so that the rest of my life wouldn’t be spent like Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, rattling around my house obsessing over what might have been.” She has yet to settle on anything concrete, save for the conviction that she will never run for office again. (…)

The New Yorker


Elena Ferrante’s books brought the Italian island new renown. Now, with Barano, a chef brings its flavors to New York.

Ischia: Capri’s forgotten sibling, the Cinderella of the islands off the coast of Naples, long lay quiet in the Tyrrhenian Sea, home to therapeutic thermal springs and sunbathing Italians. But now, thanks to Elena Ferrante, the author and patron saint of many a contemporary bibliophile, Ischia conjures mythic promises of rejuvenation. “I felt better and better, I couldn’t believe that life could be like this,” Ferrante’s main character exclaims, at the beginning of her summer in the Ischian town of Barano. As of April, Brooklyn has a Barano of its own, from the former Rubirosa chef Albert Di Meglio, who conceived of the new restaurant as an homage to his grandmother’s birthplace. It’s a rewarding experience, as long as you’re aware that Barano the restaurant is roughly as reminiscent of a Mediterranean beach town as is Peter Luger, up the street.

There are Art Deco flourishes, antiqued mirrors, and a bar lined with enough glassware to stock the Titanic. It’s lit like a cozy little place, but large enough to be perpetually half-empty; the punk-pop playlist accentuates the alienation. The service, thankfully, is attentive and kind, if a bit overwrought. One German waitress, describing her favorite dishes, punctuates each recommendation with a loud “muah” gesture, her fingers pulled in a flourish from her lips. More transporting is the wine list, which reads like an enviable itinerary: Sardinia, Umbria, Trentino-Alto Adige. Select a bracing, mineral white from the Sicilian slopes, and settle in.

Ordering wisely here means ordering counterintuitively. Despite the restaurant’s noble heritage, it’s best to skip the pizzas—unlike Rubirosa’s chewy, charred, vodka-sauce-slathered thin crusts, which are so good you blush, Barano’s offerings are unexceptional—and order some pasta. Instead of the bucatini with rabbit, an Ischian specialty, opt for the lamb tacconi, thin sheets of homemade ravioli flecked with mint leaves. Or, even better, have the ricotta tortellini, jewelled with peas that burst like only those that are freshly shelled can. The whole fish is worth it, if you can stomach a grumpy fish face staring at you, but the real stunners are the vegetable sides. Asparagus spears, over orange-thyme marmalade, and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, the ears crispy and curled around salt flakes, merit a return trip. End a meal with the panna cotta, cool and deeply vanilla, tucked under pistachio-hazelnut brittle and ribbons of basil, with slices of grapefruit just sanguine enough for you to pretend they’re blood oranges from Mt. Etna. It may be the final push you need to set off for the revitalizing shores of Barano, the original. (Dishes $5-$29.)