Monday, November 26, 2018

REVIEW: 'My Brilliant Friend' - Elena Struggles to Always Keep Up with Lila in 'Dissolving Margins'

HBO's My Brilliant Friend - Episode 1.04 "Dissolving Margins"

Entering high school, Elena vows to stay ahead of Lila, academically and romantically. Lila eschews a parade of suitors vying for her affection, choosing instead to focus on her ambitions in the shoe shop. Promising a better future for the neighborhood, Stefano Carracci invites Elena, Lila and their families over for New Year's Eve. Things escalate quickly during a fireworks face off with the Solaras, leading Lila to see a new side of her brother Rino.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of HBO's My Brilliant Friend.

"Dissolving Margins" was written by Elena Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci & Saverio Costanzo and directed by Saverio Costanzo

Elena and Lila are the best of friends. And yet, there is so much left unsaid between them as well. They are so close. They trust each other with so much. They welcome the other into their lives fully. However, it's clear to see that feelings of jealousy and insecurity permeate throughout their bond as well. This hour features them continuing to gain the romantic attention of their peers. The boys of this world are trying to woo both of them. Elena and Lila have such different reactions to these suggestions as well. Elena is so much more aware of the seductive power of Lila. She has felt it from a young age. She was willing to do anything for her. Their bond has been inseparable at times. And now, the boys are feeling that attraction as well. They are so easily persuaded to whatever she wants to do. They are intrigued by the way that she sees the world. Of course, she has no interest in a boyfriend. She just wants to work on her secret projects. She wants to study new subjects and read as many books as she can find. That's her passion at the moment. It's what she is pursuing. But that doesn't matter to the world around her. Elena is experiencing a completely different world now that she's in high school. She sees the sea for the first time. It's absolutely beautiful. She does it without Lila by her side. And yet, all she can think about is that day when they were younger and tried walking to it by themselves. Every action that she does seems to be dictated by her best friend. She is bored by school until she gets the healthy competition from Lila. Elena wants to successfully study Greek because it's a subject that Lila has already gotten a head start on. She is studying at her own pace. She isn't beholden by the rigid structure of schooling. She is doing things according to her own time table. That can be terrifying to Elena because of the uncertainty of it all. She appreciates having a friend to talk to about this subject. It means that they haven't grown apart due to growing up with different lives. But Elena always feels like she is catching up to what Lila is already doing. She needs to prove that she is still in the same league with her. She even decides to get a boyfriend just so she can claim she did something before Lila did. That's the current state of their relationship. It's not a completely destructive quality. But it does create noticeable friction. Elena admires Lila and her convictions. Lila continues to be so passionate about a number of things. But Elena is also more closely associated with the neighborhood she comes from instead of the new world in Naples that she is joining. The big events that occur here are a pair of celebrations in the local neighborhood. There is a birthday party that marks the first time that the families of Don Achille and his killer are in the same place. It ends with a huge display of Pasquale and his friends no longer being welcomed because they represent a threat to Stefano getting together with Lila. Of course, she still opts to be with her friends. That's what informs Stefano's decision to forgive everything in the past while starting a new conflict with the Solara family. That's what fuels the tension during the climatic New Year's Eve party. It's such a marvelous and dazzling sight to behold as both parties launch fireworks into the sky and mist swallows everyone on the roofs. It's a moment of pure bliss that shows the ability to come together and gaze at this spectacular achievement. It quickly turns to violence because this is still seen as a battle for the heart of the neighborhood. Lila has her heart broken because of how her brother, Rino, acts. He's the one who fuels this conflict the most. He won't let it go. He obsesses over it and that is so dangerous. It means that this turns into a fight with guns. No one gets hurt at the moment. But everything in this world will only continue to escalate. The young characters are no longer children. And so, it's very likely that they will suffer from significant consequences this time around because the burden is on them and not their parents.