Lila’s fractured personality is what makes her so endlessly alluring and confusing: being the ultimate good in one scene; sadistically hurtful in the next. You can’t even blink when she enters a room.
But she is consistent in defying the misogynistic systems that have taken over her life. She can even bend the shady Solaro family into her way of seeing things, even as she’s relegated to working at the newly opened Carracci grocery store. When she fixes an issue in the shoe shop, which she helped build, Elena watches with quiet admiration – her retrospective voice-over narrating with poetic precision (‘a thought would arrive from deep inside her and burn her brain’).
The classist and scholastic schism between Elena and Lina quietly divides the two of them. In episode three, Elena tries to upgrade herself into the wealthy intelligentsia of Naples where Nino Sarratore – the nauseating, mansplaining love-interest – also resides. It’s hard to tell whether Elena wants to enter this world because of the atmosphere or to catch this boy.
In either case, Lila proves a threat. They both attend a posh party held by one of Elena’s teachers, where teens dance the Twist and discuss the atom bomb. In one devastating scene, Lila consciously retreats from these academic youths. Despite the music being thick with cheer, the impact on Lila layers with sadness – of a kind that melts your heart into tears.
Episode four finally introduces a female director into the series. Happy As Lazzaro filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher takes the reins (albeit briefly) and, despite retaining the heavenly, sun-soaked surroundings, finds her own style. Both episodes engross themselves with Elena’s psychology, in her fantasies, her desires – but Rohrwacher’s direction is almost spiritually subjective. Her images fade and mix into Elena’s thoughts, reacting like gentle tides across sandy shores (unlike Lila’s fiery impulses).
Elena and Lila go on holiday to Torre Annunziata via Ischia, where Elena was sexually assaulted by Nino’s father Donato. He inevitably meets them, his sickening presence a burden for Elena. It’s especially grating as Lila and Pinuccia, who also comes along, speak highly of him. Elena says nothing, as though her lips have been sewn shut.
As with the first season, there are frosty moments between Lila and Elena which threaten their continued friendship. Despite being a predictable circumstance in any teen drama, bumps in their bond always hit hard – especially as neither can really cope without the other. But, even when they’re quarrelling without speaking, they'll always be there for each other. We hope.
My Brilliant Friend: The Story of a New Name continues Fridays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic
|What||My Brilliant Friend season 2 episode 3 & 4 review, Sky Atlantic|
26 Jun 20 – 26 Jun 21, ON SKY ATLANTIC