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My Brilliant Friend

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1 hour ago, scrb said:

Maybe they cast real people to save on cast budget?

Or to get real Neopolitans to try that obscure dialect?

I'm not sure that many Neapolitans speak the dialect these days.  The younger generations in my northern region of Trentino don't grow up speaking the local dialect any more.  I think the producers were going for grittier, less conventionally attractive faces and physiques, which you don't tend to find among professional actors. 

And for those who aren't aware, Italian dialects are like distinct languages.  It's not like American regional dialects, where the accents are diverse and a few words have different meanings.   Some linguists would argue that when we speak of Neapolitan, Sicilian, etc., we should say language instead of dialect.

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I finished my Brilliant Friend a few days ago and was immersed into another time and place.  Ferrante weaves and unforgettable tale. Can’t wait to get to book two!

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2 hours ago, Inquisitionist said:

And for those who aren't aware, Italian dialects are like distinct languages.  It's not like American regional dialects, where the accents are diverse and a few words have different meanings.   Some linguists would argue that when we speak of Neapolitan, Sicilian, etc., we should say language instead of dialect.

Actually it's true of several European nations, which were formed in the second half of the 20th century.

For instance, I remember reading somewhere that in 1850, only 20% of the population of the area which encompasses modern France spoke the language which is considered modern French.

Even a small country like Switzerland has small regions with a language which is unlike any of the 3 officially spoken languages.

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5 hours ago, scrb said:

Well they showed Lenu being kissed by both Nino and Donato and it's a big contrast.

She said Nino's kiss was barely perceptible (forget the exact word) but she's crushing on him.

Donato was invasive, since it was sexual harassment.  She was paralyzed by fear but she also said in the narration that she hadn't known pleasure until then.

She felt "disgust" for Sarratore but also felt "revulsion" for herself.

Elena who is a writer didn't try to put this experience into words until now, going back and looking at her life with Lila, which is the occasion for this narrative starting in her childhood.

Presumably she doesn't tell Lila or anyone else.

Sexual assault.  On a child.  On her birthday, by a man she had admired.  My heart broke for Lenu.  I could feel it coming too.  He was creepy the whole episode.  

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What's particularly rough is that Elena notes earlier how she feels comfortable when he's around, she sees him as a cultured, different type of father from the ones in the neighbourhood, she trusts him to set a different example.

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S01E07: I fidanzati - That tunnel connecting the neighborhood to the rest of the world is some passage.  Every time Lenu goes through and comes back, she’s more worldly.

Shes got guys after her and finally schemes a way to turn the tables on creepy Donato, who’s ruined Nino for her.

 

Lila doesn’t have to walk through the tunnel like Lenu to become wise to the ways of the world.  Instead, she probably rides through it in Stefano’s red convertible, because she’s gotten rid of Marcello Solara by cozying up to Stefano, finally agreeing to marry him.

While she’s brilliantly extricated herself, she may not have counted on what the Solaras might do.  Papa Solara comes to visit the Cerullo’s new shop, which Stefano is bankrolling to make the shoes Lila had designed, and leaves with the “nice shop you have here, would be a shame if something happened to it, like it catching fire” warning.

Lila looks stylish with her visits to the hairdresser and her new wardrobe but she’s going to marry the boy who threatened her when she was little.  For her sake, Stefano better have reformed rather than be a wolf like Marcello.  

Or maybe Stefano better worry about not crossing Lila.

Their old school teacher had an interesting observation about where the beauty little Lila had in her brain went to as a young woman.

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S01E08: La Promessa:

Lila believed Stefano when he said they’d be better than their parents.  

But they had to make a bargain with the devil.  She thought she was marrying a man who loved her and strived to be better but in the end, she was marrying Don Achille’s son.

She was shaken by her old teacher’s brutal repudiation of what she was about to become, the wife of the scion of a connected family.

So she makes Lenu promise to fulfill the potential for academic brilliance that she’d shown when they were children.  Because as the maestra said, Lila has been reduced to her physical beauty, which wealthy men desire to possess.

Elena refers in her narration that Lila talked about getting out of that neighborhood.  They were going to take the money Don Achilles had given them to become writers and escape that place.  But she may be stuck there, in business with the Solaras.

 

I don’t know the books so it remains to be seen what they do with the second season.  Do they jump way ahead?  The lead actresses are teenagers so they may have to recast.  It’s going to feel like a long wait for season 2.

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After the season 1 finale, they announced My True Brilliant Friend, a 75 minute documentary which airs on Dec. 12th.

Already available on HBO Go.

Maybe behind the scenes or a making of piece with cast and crew interviews.

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Donato creeping around like the creep that he is just had me shaking my head. When he was going on and on about how he couldn't stop thinking about Elena and he needed her, I was like BACK OFF. First of all, she's only 15 (and you are twice as old as she is). Secondly, you are married. But most importantly, learn to read the room. She clearly doesn't reciprocate those feelings so leave her alone! Lila is clearly much more calculating than Elena is, but I loved that Elena got Donato to go away by bringing Malina's son and having him frame it as "you're going to drive my mother insane if you keep showing your face around here."

Elena's scene in the changing hut with Antonio reminded me what it was like to deal with teenage boys. They're having their FIRST kiss and what does Antonio do? He goes straight for the boob grab within five seconds. As if that weren't enough, next he goes straight for the pussy grab. I mean seriously, dude. You guys haven't even gone on a date with your new girlfriend yet. You're still in the middle of having your first kiss and THIS is what you decide to do?

Alfonso totally reminded me of a young Ralph Macchio. I don't know why I didn't see it before.

Interesting that Ada was so quick to jump on the "Lila is a whore" train. Normally I refrain from the tired excuse "they're just jealous!" but in this case, I think that's all it really is. Pasquale was already rejected by Lila, and for someone with money, no less. Ada wishes she could land someone rich. All this complaining about how she's a kept woman because Stefano is buying her clothes is laughable coming from Ada since she was the one riding around with the Solaras in the previous episode.

Marcello is definitely not a nice guy (which we saw as recently as episode 6 when he threatened Lila), but I did feel a little bit bad for him when Lila gave him a spark of hope (when she asked him to take her for gelato). She clearly enjoyed crushing his spirit by firmly rejecting him. I'm not saying she should have married Marcello, but it's a good reminder that even jerks have feelings. It makes me sad that the only way for a poor girl like her to get out of an engagement to someone she clearly detested was to find someone else to marry. I mean, she is only 15. There is no need for her to get married already!

 

I never understand control freak parents like Elena's mother. You're worried about your daughter getting involved with "only" a mechanic so you won't let her sit with her friends at a wedding? Yes, the most dangerous situation is letting her sit at a table with six other people in plain sight of your table (and the entire town) at her best friend's wedding.

Nino is such a pill. Novels don't serve a purpose? GFTO, please.

Antonio can also have a seat. But I'm not into jealous/possessive guys.

Just about everyone has looked miserable for most of the previous seven episodes so it was nice to see everyone (well, everyone except sulky Nino) laughing, singing, dancing, and having a good time. For once, everyone looked happy. Well, at least until Marcello and Michele showed up.

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On 11/21/2018 at 5:28 PM, Aja said:

... So I lived there a while, man, and it's crazy. And beautiful. With no shortage of crazy. Or beauty. And Elena Ferrante nailed Naples, like, down to the protons. TOTAL masterpiece. I just can't tongue bathe it lavishly enough!

Aja, I share your unbridled Norwegian enthusiasm for Napoli. And while I too could give the entire city and its wonderful people a tongue-bath, do you find the show's streets and squares oddly clean and tidy? It looks like Pyongyang! 

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Love that song!

The look between Lila and Elena killed me.

 

Here's the final passage from the book: 

 

Quote

Later I had the impression that a gust of wind had shut the door of the restaurant. In reality there was no wind or even a banging of doors. There happened only what could have been predicted to happen. Just in time for the cake, for the favors, the very handsome, very well-dressed Solara brothers appeared. They moved through the room greeting this one and that in their lordly way. Gigliola threw her arms around Michele’s neck and drew him down next to her. Lila, with a sudden flush on her throat and around her eyes, pulled her husband energetically by the arm and said something in his ear. Silvio nodded slightly to his children, Manuela looked at them with a mother’s pride. The singer started Lazzarella, modestly imitating Aurelio Fierro. Rino with a friendly smile invited Marcello to sit down. Marcello sat down, loosened his tie, crossed his legs.

The unpredictable revealed itself only at that point. I saw Lila lose her color, become as pale as when she was a child, whiter than her wedding dress, and her eyes had that sudden contraction that turned them into cracks. She had in front of her a bottle of wine and I was afraid that her gaze would go through it with a violence that would shatter it, with the wine spraying everywhere. But she wasn’t looking at the bottle. She was looking farther away, she was looking at the shoes of Marcello Solara.

They were Cerullo shoes for men. Not the model for sale, not the ones with the gilded pin. Marcello had on his feet the shoes bought earlier by Stefano, her husband. It was the pair she had made with Rino, making and unmaking them for months, ruining her hands.

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1 hour ago, abcfsk said:

The look between Lila and Elena killed me.

 

Here's the final passage from the book: 

 

Yeah I figured the Solaras would show up and thought there might be a violent confrontation.

But obviously Stefano cut a deal with them so if the shoes are a success, I can see Stefano and the Solaras getting rich while the Cerullos are screwed.

I wondered why Silvio would be open to officiating the wedding between a rival family and the peasant shoe cobbler family whose daughter had rejected his own son.

Was it for a chance to throw a big bash and show off?

Or maybe they saw a big economic opportunity with those shoes, though I would imagine the people who really had money in Naples would be buying Ferragamos and other better-known brands from other parts of Italy which set the trend for fashion such as Milan and Florence.

 

I don't know if the Camorra made big money from pastry or grocery stores like the ones depicted here.  I thought they're big on doing things like adulterating olive oil and shaking down small businesses.  Or doing horrible things like helping factories dump toxic waste into land and waterways near drinking water supplies.

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20 hours ago, abcfsk said:

 

Here's the final passage from the book: 

Quote

There happened only what could have been predicted to happen.

 

OMG, this is an example of Ann Goldstein's frequently clunky translations, hewing too closely to the specific Italian words ("Accadde solo quello che era prevedibile che accadesse.") rather than the sense the author is imparting.  "What happened was exactly what one could have predicted."  is how I would have expected Ferrante to put it if she were writing in English, not the stilted form Goldstein chose.

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I like that line and I love her translation, in the sense that I love the language of her translation - I don't speak Italian so can't speak for accuracy, of course.

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Are you referring to her translation of that particular line?  If so, what do you love about it?  My problem with it is that the Italian sounds perfectly natural, but the English rendering sounds stilted, quaint if you will.  It imparts a sense or feeling in English that wasn't there in the original Italian. 

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On 12/10/2018 at 11:38 PM, scrb said:

After the season 1 finale, they announced My True Brilliant Friend, a 75 minute documentary which airs on Dec. 12th.

Already available on HBO Go.

Maybe behind the scenes or a making of piece with cast and crew interviews.

Documentary is good.  It centers on the two older girls who were 13 (Lila) and 14 (Elena) when they first auditioned for these roles.  They showed some of the audition tape.

The audition was a long process, with the girls auditioning later in Rome after the initial auditions in the Naples area.

Then, they had to decide whether to tell their respective schoolmates that they were going to be out of school for months.  Turned out they rehearsed for over a month and shot for just over 6 months.

By the time they did promotion in LA and in Venice, they were 15 and 16.  They also allude a couple of times towards the end that they will start gett8ng ready to do the second season.  So before HBO publicly confirmed renewal, they were planning to go forward with a second season, with these girls.  

Its kind of unsurpris8ng because they invested a lot of time and money with them, getting them acting coaches and gave them a lot of notes about how to do scenes.  The rehearsal and shooting time seemed like acclimating them to life as actresses.  In those 7 plus months they were bonding with other cast and crew and lived in a hotel so they socialized with them.

I don’t know if the other young cast were newcomers.  Seemed older and many of them, especially the guys, seemed to regularly drink alcohol.

Towards the end, there was a real MBF moment when Margherita said they’d have to go to rehearsals soon and Gaia says they don’t need rehearsals.  They were new to acting the first time so they had to learn but it’s not necessary any more or not necessary for her.

Can’t get more Lila and Elena than that, the latter being cautious while the former confidently goes out on a limb.

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I watched the documentary as well.  Gaia gives such a wonderfully multifaceted portrayal of Lila that it was almost jarring to see that she is really so very young.  Her reaction when watching the trailer for the first time brought me to tears and it was so sweet when Margherita (Elena) reached out to touch her hand. 

Edited by Koalagirl
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I always love behind the scenes stuff but this was especially interesting because the girls were so young and unknown when they started working on the show. I loved the contrast between their very serious characters and how normal they are in real life. I was so used to seeing them in their period costumes/setting that at first it was a little disorienting to see them in contemporary clothes and texting.

ITA that the moment in the car when they were talking about rehearsal for S2 was a very Lila/Elena moment in real life.

I thought they gave excellent performances but watching this showed me just how exacting the director was with them. Because their characters were so serious, it was sweet to see both girls crying on the last days of filming.

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Question about language. I am reading that the show, in its native language, some Italians have problems understanding it because of the Neapolitan dialect or whatever dialect is used in the show. Is this true? If that is so, how is it reflected in the book? Do the characters speak in dialect in the original Italian text?

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2 hours ago, orangepeel said:

Question about language. I am reading that the show, in its native language, some Italians have problems understanding it because of the Neapolitan dialect or whatever dialect is used in the show. Is this true? If that is so, how is it reflected in the book? Do the characters speak in dialect in the original Italian text?

I have not read the books so I can't answer that part of your question but in the HBO documentary "My True Brilliant Friend" which focuses on the teenagers playing Lila and Elena in the series, the young actresses said that it was difficult for them because they had to learn their lines not only in the unfamiliar Neapolitan dialect, but specifically in the Neapolitan dialect of the 1950s.

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Here's the answer:

Quote

Ferrante avoids transcribing the speech patterns of the street, writing out everything in proper Italian and inserting a clause to specify whether the speaker is using Neapolitan dialect or not. This saves the reader from having to struggle through laboriously rendered, potentially offensive slang à la Huckleberry Finn, and it also makes it impossible to forget how far the narrator, Elena Greco, has traveled, from her days as a postwar urchin to the heights of literary respectability.

https://www.vulture.com/2018/12/my-brilliant-friend-hbo-neapolitan-dialect.html

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2 hours ago, orangepeel said:

A very interesting article.  Glad you shared it.  It makes you realize that subtitles alone do not always convey the contextual subtleties of the original language.

During the documentary, there is a segment where the girls' initial auditions are shown.  The casting agent, off camera, asks Margherita (Elena) what she would like to do in her future.  She says that she wants to study languages.  After reading this article, which is slightly spoiler-ish about Elena's adult future, it makes me wonder if the future ambition Margherita spoke of had something to do with her casting.  When they showed the girls at the Los Angeles premiere, Margherita seemed comfortable speaking English.  Gaia (Lila) did not.

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On 12/11/2018 at 9:08 AM, Dusibello said:

Aja, I share your unbridled Norwegian enthusiasm for Napoli. And while I too could give the entire city and its wonderful people a tongue-bath, do you find the show's streets and squares oddly clean and tidy? It looks like Pyongyang! 

OMG YES. That's definitely the cleanest ghetto in the city, no doubt!! And the least crowded!  When I lived there during the 90s, even wealthy parts like Vomero had trash piled six feet in the air along all the streets.

Life got in the way so it took me a while to finish the series. I read all three books a couple of years ago and lost my mind entirely. I wouldn't shut up for months about how it was the BEST THING EVER WRITTEN and Lila Cerullo is the GREATEST FEMALE CHARACTER EVER WRITTEN and Elena Ferrante is THE DOSTOEVSKY OF OUR GENERATION and seriously, I could not shut up. So I was wary about the show. I just didn't see how it would be possible to do the books justice on screen. As another poster pointed out, so much of the depth and feeling in the books come from Elena's descriptions of her feelings about Lila, the neighborhood, her parents, etc...and one of the most brilliant things about the books, to me, was that at a certain point, especially when Elena gets older, you slowly realize that you're seeing this whole story from her perspective, but she is not necessarily the most reliable narrator.

WELL. I was NOT disappointed! First of all, I was GOBSMACKED to learn that neither kid-Elena and Lila nor teenaged-Elena and Lila were professional actors. What!!!!!  And I was pleased to see that the more brutal parts of the book (Lila's dad throwing her out the window and breaking her arm, the casual violence of family life, Donato's sexual assault of Elena) were not left out. They're ugly, but it's not possible to write honestly about Neapolitan culture without them. In Naples, and actually a lot of Italy, women are absolutely thought of and treated as possessions. Possessions to be cared for and "spoiled" with pretty things, but also very much expected to to do exactly as the men in her life--father, brother, husband, whatever--tell her to do, with violence to be expected as a matter of course if she does not. And this is as recently as the 90s, when I myself married one. My ex's family wasn't as extreme as the families on the show, not quite. My ex would never have dreamed of physically assaulting me. But the attitude was definitely there. And I, a Scandiavian-heritaged, born-and-raised American girl was TREMENDOUSLY unpopular with the family when it came to these matters. I knew plenty of girls like Lila, fierce and brilliant but trapped in their roles. Stuff like that still definitely exists.

And ISCHIA. Won't you please indulge me for one minute while I verbally orgasm over the Ischia episodes! Apart from the last five minutes when Donato turned into Mr. Grabby. (Again--extremely typical. "I love you and can't live without you and only think of  you" is Neapolitan-dude for "I absolutely must possess and control you." Note how Marcello is egged on by Lila's rejections--it's not love, it's flat determination to get that little bitch under his control.) We as high school kids used to take the ferry to Ischia for the day just to hang out and watch the yachts and the rich people. One time, a woman who looked alarmingly like Nella pulled us (there were three of us) into her little trattoria off a side road and force-fed us linguini and clams and rhapodized non-stop about how darling the American kids were. No matter how idyllic a film depiction of Ischia might be, I assure you--it is thousands of times more idyllic in real life.

You know, I really haven't spent a whole lot of time being sad about missing my life in Europe, but I think I'm about to start.

*runs away sobbing*

ETA: I'm so thrilled they're at least doing the next book, it looks like! Freakin' YAY!  For those who have not read the books, trust me--we have barely scratched the surface of the amazing, happy, heartbreaking, wonderful and horrible trajectory of the lives and friendship of Elena and Lila!!

Edited by Aja
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