But it’s here now (two episodes every Friday), resuming the familiar and frank
and brilliant friendship between the introverted Elena (Margherita Mazzucco), who
narrates the series, and the impulsively intelligent Lila
(Gaia Girace), now married to Stefano (Giovanni Amura).
Elena (Margherita Mazzucco) and Lila (Gaia Grace) hanging with Marcello Solaro (Elvis Esposito). Photo: HBO
The first two episodes return to the series' claustrophobic, patriarchal neighbourhood, which closes in, on Lila especially.
After the morally bankrupt Solaro family intruded on Lila’s wedding at the end of season one, her trust
in Stefano has wilted. But he’s having none of it. He’s morphed into a prickly,
abusive husband, as if his true personality was withheld prior to the marriage. His real self claws its way out, unveiling a violent picture of monstrous masculinity.
Lila’s stuck in
the barbed cages built by her family, the town, and now her husband – losing her
control, her power. But Lila has never been one for entrapment, for others
silently pitying her like the broken elephant in the room. Some of the most thrilling
and painful moments soar with her rebellion against the marriage system and the societal pressure to procreate.
This fear of emasculation, and its repercussions,
billows into Elena’s life as well. She continues her relationship with the droopy mechanic
Antonio (Christian Giroso), narrated with horny, competitive honesty by
her older self (‘I wanted to be penetrated’).
But she still maintains her
feelings for the leftist contrarian teen Nino (Francesco Serpico), whose
writing still sends her flying in amorous spirals. She tries to please both boys, but Nino’s far, far, far too up his own backside to really notice, and
Antonio interprets her help as an affront, contesting his own masculinity.
sets up the remainder of the season, which might further explore these patriarchal
systems that put men and women into cold, singular categories. Lila sees
through it immediately, but Elena still holds onto a sweet, youthful naivety –
even turning against her best friend’s resistant attitude.
Elena with her droopy boyfriend Antonio (Christian Giroso). Photo: HBO
Where voiceover narration can often sound
pretentiously superfluous, Elena’s older, wiser, retrospective voice adds soft
waves to an already beautiful ocean. It provides richer detail, mixing and crashing with director Saverio Costanzo’s lavish, psychological style.
tell that both Costanzo and the series’ cinematographer Fabio Ciancetti wanted
even more visual ambition in this season, the camera sweeping and
floating and levitating through this conservative town. One scene in particular
has Elena see her whole world differently, the visuals moving with her voiceover
in a wondrous, revelatory delirium.
Although the themes are laid on thick, making
rare departures into soapy territory, they ripple profoundly into such touching
and horrible moments. This critic is already expecting much from this new season – foreshadowed in the Succession-like titles, which offer a delectable,
celluloid overview of what’s to come. My Brilliant Friend, we’re so
happy you’re back.
My Brilliant Friend season 2 airs on Friday 19 June on Sky Atlantic
|What||My Brilliant Friend season 2 episodes 1 & 2, Sky Atlantic review|
19 Jun 20 – 19 Jun 21, ON SKY ATLANTIC