Vanity Fair: My Brilliant Friend: The Puberty Episode

Episode 3 is a time of transition: Elena starts middle school and her period, while Lila is distant, immersed in secretive affairs. The Solara brothers have a new car. And the neighborhood library throws a little party.

On Vanity Fair

Sonia Saraya – Nov 25, 2018

We’ll be recapping each episode of My Brilliant Friend. This recap is written by someone who has read (and loved) the original books, but there will be no spoilers for future plot points. New episodes are airing Sunday and Monday nights, through December 10.

In the three hours of My Brilliant Friend we’ve seen so far, we have left the neighborhood but once. Last week there was the foray outside of the tunnel, which drew young Elena (Elisa del Genio) and Lila (Ludovica Nasti) a mile or two away from where they grew up. This hour, “The Metamorphoses,” once again takes place entirely within the neighborhood. While watching it, I found myself wishing that My Brilliant Friend had a more visually interesting way of depicting the barren, empty promise of the neighborhood—even though the featureless buildings and spare color palette are such an effective communication of joyless life.

The first two developments of this episode are the aftereffects of inevitable puberty. Now a teenager played by Margherita Mazzucco, Elena’s first period stains her skirt without her knowledge, and while she’s looking for Lila for help, the whole town sees the telltale blood on the back of her skirt. Meanwhile, Ada Cappuccio (Ulrike Migliaresi), targeted for wearing lipstick while poor, is manhandled into the back of the Solara brothers’ new car and returned, rumpled and smeared. They make for an evocative pair of new dangers, both marked by a blotch of crimson in the otherwise dreary blues, browns, and grays of the neighborhood.

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