My Brilliant Friend – the Story Played by Life

Before we deal with the successful Italian series `My Brilliant Friend`, I want you to think back to someone who was free and brave in your childhood. And what did you feel, each time you were next to that person, or now when you think of  that person? These are the feelings that you must keep in mind as you watch the fascinating story of the lives of Lila and Elena.

The Story Played by Life, Not Professional Actors

The first two seasons reprised the first two books from the cycle “Neapolitan novels” by Elena Ferrante. The first book is “My brilliant friend“. They introduced the reader to the world of the different lives of two girlfriends who led lives that were as different and hard as could be at that time.

Subsequently, “The Story of a New Name”  was premiered in February. In the initial plot, Raffaella Cerullo and Elena Greco live in a Neapolitan industrial neighborhood where. After 17 hours of continuously watching the series, the viewer becomes merged into the daily routine they knew and the conditions they must ultimately resist.




The essence of female friendship

Raffaella – “Lila” – is an independent, self-confident child who outgrows her classmates in reading, writing, drawing, and math. She breaks the rules and establishes her freedom. Elena Greco, as opposed to Lila, must live in “good girl” mode, setting her conscience straight and being gentle. Even if that runs counter to her gut feelings. In their carefree childhood, they knew the strict yard rules of the Rione Luzzatti neighborhood. They knew rock fights with boys, and knew their girls’ secrets and dreams.

But in post-war Italy, the notion of women’s rights had not yet been born. The only option was the path towards domestic life and the submersion of women’s personalities in a male-dominated society. Most females could not get decent work, or obtain an education, or acquire simple skills such as writing or even reading.

The fates of Lila and Elena are first and foremost evidence, for all of European society, that a woman is born to express her personality. The novel by Elena Ferrante is identified as “feminist”. It fully reveals the essence of female friendship, characters, problems, and courage to challenge the entire consensus point of view.

Behind the scenes

In addition to morality and a message that goes deep into concept, this show also highlights a brilliant backstage above all the entire team that worked on the “My Brilliant Friend” project. Director Saverio Costanzo (“Hungry Hearts”, “The Solitude of Prime Numbers”) was also one of the screenwriters, along with  Elena Ferrante doing the editing.

Music by Max Richter, who has been recognized as the best European composer of our time. He wrote the music for “Black Mirror”, “Ad Astra”, and “Miss Sloane”. He also created a phenomenal soundtrack that touches one deeply and evokes something warm from childhood.

The producer of the picture was the magnificent Paolo Sorrentino, who has given the world “Youth”, “Young Pope” and “Great Beauty”. One of the interesting facts is that the series has no dubbing, and in its original form it was broadcast in Italian with a Neapolitan dialect. So, you will get a much more exact impression of the culture.

A strong story about two different lives. And it will resonate above all for those who have lived in friendship, who have striven for freedom, and have taken steps towards themselves.

Chapter one: my brilliant friend

So, most of the first season tell us about the childhood and adolescence of Lenu and Lila. Born into a society with an unbending code for living, there are no easy options for exceptional people. All attempts to break through the established cultural boundaries of the neighborhood or even the whole region are suppressed by the established patterns of working class life and opposed by shameful public violence.

For the first time, the girls run away from home, they overcome the envy of each other’s successes, they compete, for the first time dream and oppose the local boys. To accept victories and defeats, they often reconcile with the injustice of fate.

A small courtyard, where neighbors stay within the boundaries set by a clothesline, is full of secrets, rumours, affairs, and the first profound impressions for small girls. The death of one housemate and the cheating of another one, as well as fights and feuds, leave an indelible imprint on youthful consciousness.

Every single day was a wake up call for them, a chance to discover new places, write a book, or travel to the sea, even as small children, who sometimes skipped school. Once they spent the first money they had for Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”, in order to improve their writing skills and turn them into income.

We do not know the hero’s background

In keeping with the theme of friendship, the script shows the relationship between families and their influence on the lives of youth. Sometimes the girls have to make adult decisions. Lenu had a great opportunity to get an education, while Lila was forced to work and earn money from an early age. That’s why Lila became an alienated child and shut herself away from her friend, feeling that her desires would never become a reality, and experiencing an indelible outrage.

The story of the first part introduces us to the two characters as children. Then we see how they change throughout their lives, and the fight they had to wage to affirm their personalities. Sometimes, looking at heroic behavior, we do not know anything about the hero’s background, especially his childhood, and there are many things we don`t understand. At the same time, some of our experiences help us explore the character and understand his intentions fully.

Chapter two: the story of a new name

During the second season, we meet mature women, taking the first steps in business, love, marriage, and illicit relationships. From the point of personal acceptance between Lenu and Lila, this story does not go beyond their friendship. And they share all the transformations between themselves. They overcome, break principles and fears, as one big story about taking on each other’s lives, with all the obstacles.

Lila`s strict behaviour turns into fatal actions for her, therefore it brings much more difficulties in family life. Because of her sharp edges, she struggles with domestic violence. The words of women continued to be suppressed by force, because the silences have been long. In the case of Italian history, this has gone on for more than several decades. The unspoken emotions have accumulated. The desire to speak has gathered like a whirlwind, destroying a critical view of the situation. It was Lila’s “over the limit” life.

Elena was a girl of “soft destiny”, and Lila`s absolute reflection never aimed to speak with her voice. Her edge was silent, with many consequences, including a self-distortion of her own ego. She was in close connection with her beloved father, moreover suppressing so many fears in order for other people to like her. Let`s say she was luckier and not beaten by fate. But living in mental imprisonment could become the worst cage for an independent human.

Individuals of forced reality

The epic finale makes us wonder what childhood dreams we had to give up? How painful it could be for us to betray ourselves and change into individuals of forced reality.

This is a fascinating story about destiny. About images that have remained with us since childhood, which inspired us and always were our icons. And of course, Vivaldi’s incredible “Spring”, recomposed by Max Richter, takes us away in the moments of childhood and happiness. Wings grow to send us flying like free birds and learn to dream again. Don’t you?


Photo: IMDB

Read more reviews from the author.

Support us!

All your donations will be used to pay the magazine’s journalists and to support the ongoing costs of maintaining the site.


paypal smart payment button for simple membership

Share this post

Interested in co-operating with us?

We are open to co-operation from writers and businesses alike. You can reach us on our email at [email protected]/[email protected] and we will get back to you as quick as we can.

Where to next?

Finding Balance in the Age of Social Media

In an era where social media showcases only the highlights of life, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) has become a ubiquitous concern for young American students, especially those navigating college…

Digital Activism in the Modern Age

Throughout history, activism has stood out as the potent catalyst for societal metamorphosis. It's the soul's clarion call for justice, equality, and transformation. Traditional activism, with its marches, pickets, and…

“That ‘90s Show” Brief Review

Written by Alexandra Tarter, Editor-in-Chief Overview “That ‘90s Show” is a perfect throwback to Millennials’ childhood. Layers and layers of nostalgia reveal themselves in each and every episode, with a…

Culture through the lens of Photography

Photography is significant not just because it is a work of art but also because it is one of the most powerful tools for shaping our views and influencing our…