Friday, July 12, 2019

HBO has released the first official image from the second season of My Brilliant Friend

HBO has released the first official image from the second season of My Brilliant Friend, and I was so happy to see that it would feature the actresses from the first season-- Margherita Mazzucco as Elena and Gaia Girace as Lila.

I was surprised by how much I liked season one. I’ve been in the grip of Ferrante Fever since 2013, have read all Ferrante’s novels at least three times and have written a book, In Search of Elena Ferrante, to help me better understand why these books have had such a hold on my imagination and on the imaginations of millions of readers worldwide. Given this history, I expected to be hypercritical of the new film version My Brilliant Friend on HBO, but loved it and am eagerly looking forward to season two.

Season one director Saverio Costanzo will return to direct six episodes and Alice Rohrwacher will direct two episodes. However, I worry that Costanzo may be the wrong person to portray the brutal treatment of Lila by her husband.

I was troubled by the film’s treatment of middle-aged Donato Sarratore’s sexual assault of 15-year-old Elena during a summer vacation in Ischia. Elena is taken by surprise by Donato, did not resist him, and appears immobilized. The film’s soundtrack, more appropriate to a romantic scene than to a sexual assault, is jarring. For Elena, the experience was a mixture of repulsion and the stirring of sexual desire. Confused and ashamed, Elena flees the island early in the morning the next day; she told no one about the experience.

In an interview with Vulture, Director Saverio Costanzo explained his choice of a romantic soundtrack as a backdrop for a scene of sexual violence, saying he “didn’t want the scene to be realistic and therefore intolerable to the viewer,” so he decided to use “a soft piano tune.”

I think Costanzo’s concern for the viewer is misplaced here. The soundtrack has the impact of minimizing the reality of sexual assault. Given his treatment of sexual assault, I wonder if he can honestly portray the brutal domestic violence of The Story of a New Name, the second volume of the Neapolitan Quartet.