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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

My Brilliant Friend

Streaming on HBOMax. Film & TV

Elena Ferrante’s best-selling novel—set among the small and dusty apartment buildings of 1950s Naples—has been transferred to the screen. The eight-episode drama is filmed in Italian, and follows two working-class girls, the best friends Elena and Lila, from girlhood to young adulthood. While Elena is quiet and studious, Lila is fierce, romantic, and brazen. But both have the same burning desire—to escape their dark Neapolitan town, make money, and find a path into the world. As the show unfolds, the girls’ childhood competitiveness gives way to more dangerous social issues: male violence, left-wing politics, patriarchy, and poverty. —E.C.

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