'My Brilliant Friend' Review: The fireworks scene depicts what Lila feared the most and becomes a revelation of her brother Rino
Watching her brother turn into just another version of her father, the scene cleared highlighted Lila's disappointment over her brother's actions
One of the most striking moments of the fourth episode of 'My Brilliant Friend' is the firework scene towards the end that left fans contemplating its significance in HBO's adaptation of the first book of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, 'My Brilliant Friend'.
The story follows the plight of two young girls whose friendship is put to test not just by the feud in the neighborhood between the rich and the poor, but also the brilliance of one friend which is perceived as a threat to the intellect of the other friend. Starring Margherita Mazzucco (as Elena/Lenu) and Gaia Girace (as Raffaella/Lila), the Saverio Costanzo-created show is set against the backdrop of the dangerous but fascinating Naples, Italy, in the 1950s.
After convincing their friends to celebrate New Year's Eve with the Caraccis, whose father Don Achilles was killed by the Pelusos, Lila and Lenu try to forge a new alliance between the two families. Although Lila's brother Rino (played by Gennaro De Stefano) had the idea of taking a loan to purchase fireworks to show off how well his shoe business was doing in the neighborhood, celebrating the coming of a new year with an enemy seemed like a better plan, as the children strive to rectify the mistakes their parents had earlier committed.
However, by the end of the episode, Lila realizes that it had all once again gone in vain because she seemed to have overlooked the fact that children more than often tend to take after their parents.
What began as a celebration soon turned out to be the early traces of a "civil war". The Pelusos children joined the Caraccis as a sign that they regretted the decade-long feud between the two families which was started by one murder.
However, realizing that it was time to put all of that behind as a gesture to establish a bond — also in a disguised attempt to gather the entire neighborhood against the Solaras — they begin to arrange fireworks which initially served as a symbol of reunion and the dawn of a new friendship. Unfortunately, that soon became a medium of revelation for the children on both sides.
A battle of fireworks begin between the Solaras and the Caraccis and soon turns into an encounter involving gunshots and abuses. The beauty of the scene enveloped in smog lies in the fact that it perfectly depicted what Lila was perceiving of her brother, Rino. As Rino got to the top of the building to shout out abuses and throw fireworks at the Solaras, Lila watched him not growing to be the man that he has so often claimed to be, but into a mere shadow of their father's petty ethics and ugly outlook towards the world. The camera zooms into Lila's face who stares at her brother amid all the blasts, as the scene begins to overlap her face with Rino's physical aggression.
The scene perfectly depicted the concept of "smarginatura", which is one of the dominant themes in the story defining the dissolving margins between parents and children. Lila, who has been trying hard to get out of the shadow of her father and change the turbulent dynamics that the families shared, saw her dream crash in front of her with her brother playing the antagonist in this case.
Unfortunately enough, Rino seems to be taking after his father, feeding himself with anger and vengeance, in order to show the Solaras that their bourgeois wealth did not make them any more powerful than the rest of the plain folks.
The scene was extremely captivating, and probably one of the best shot in the series so far. With Lenu's voice serving as a justification to Lila's inner conflict, the red and yellow colors served as mediums to depict the shades of the character.
A communist at heart, with no formal education on communism, Lila's face was overshadowed with the red hues of the fireworks while Rino's silhouette gleamed against the yellow light coming from the street light, indicating his tendency to climb up to the bourgeois class without being one.