BBC Radio 4 Extra - Drama, Caroline Quentin - My Brilliant Divorce
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The novels are just evocative, but seeing it all play out on screen and hearing the roughness of the Neapolitan dialect its characters use adds a lot to the story; both fans, haters, and newcomers to the Neapolitan novels will find something to stick around for once they press play on the 8-part miniseries. Lila carries herself with a self-possessiveness that fascinates Elena.
And while they initially avoid each other, the two girls become inseparable after Enzo, a neighborhood boy, starts throwing rocks at Lila. She'd just eviscerated him in a school competition, which upsets him. Elena offers the young girl a rock, which she lobs across the street at him. This act of violence against the boy bonds them, and they slowly begin to spend time with each other. Elena is gullible while Lila is bossy, and the young Cerullo uses that to her advantage. A prime example occurs when Lila makes them swap dolls, immediately after throwing Elena's down into the cellar.
The other girl reacts by defiantly tossing Lila's doll through the iron bars, too. Although they become connected at the hip, there's always an underlying tension between them. Audiences who've read the novel are well-acquainted with this nuanced dynamic, but for first-time viewers, their relationship can seem bizarre.
That said, there are some reasons why Lila is so confident — for one, she's a bona fide genius, and Maestra Oliviero is rendered speechless when she discovers that her young pupil had taught herself to read and write. Furthermore, it's clear that she doesn't have a great home life. Because of her family's dire financial situation, Lila's father forbids her from seeking higher education.
‘I fell in love with Lila’: on the set of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend
This saddens her brother, Rino, who offers to work for her tuition. Rino responds, "She's the smartest person in the neighborhood — ask the teacher! But it's no use when Maestra Oliviero tries to convince Lila's mother that she belongs in school. Cerullo responds, helplessly. Maybe things are like that in your house, but not in ours.