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Searching for Love and Money in ‘My Brilliant Friend’

Category: Art & Culture,Arts

But the physical and romantic aspects are just as palpable. I really appreciate how, throughout the series, strangers and acquaintances, men and women alike greet Lenù or Lila, and usually the second thing out of their mouths after “ciao” is “so pretty!” or some other comment on their appearance. The constant message is that their value as young girls is tied to how they look, at the same time, Lenù, at least, is very self-conscious of her changing body and acne; this really took me back to my time experiencing puberty.

SHUTLER I completely agree. Lenù’s pubescent awkwardness in that bathing suit is palpable, at least at first. And that felt very true to how I remember the books. As a reader, I felt so deeply inside Lenù’s head that I could feel her young female awkwardness and her shame and fears. (Or maybe I was just being vividly reminded of my own!)

BARONE There’s a lot else to unpack in the sixth episode beyond the bathing suit. It was the classic turning point of a Bildungsroman: Having left mainland Italy for the island of Ischia, Lenù begins to truly blossom. Her skin clears, she reads great literature, she falls in love.

Aisha, I’d like to hear what you think of Nino Sarratore, her crush, since you haven’t read the books. On the page, from the rosy perspective of Lenù, he is endlessly attractive: elusive, brilliant, assured. But seeing him onscreen, I felt as though I were looking at him as I would an ex-lover. From the more objective vantage point, those same qualities took on an opposite shade: aloof, haughty, petulant.

HARRIS Indeed, this is my first foray into the world of Ferrante, though I’ve been familiar with her work for some time. Nino reminded me a lot of Timothée Chalamet’s brooding, self-serious intellectual in “Lady Bird,” except nerdy — the exact type of boy a girl like Lenù would be attracted to at this point in her life. I think to some extent his aloofness is what draws her in, and also, of course, his intense interest in learning. I think, because we are adults, we can look at Nino and say “you can do better, girl.” I also wonder if, in translation from page to screen, the director Saverio Costanzo wanted to show him as the adult Lenù now sees him.


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