The third season of the RAI and HBO series “My Brilliant Friend” is ready to air in Italy and in the U.S., where the high-end show based the third book in Elena Ferrante’s quadrilogy has been set for a Feb. 28 debut on HBO and HBO Max.
The eight-episode adaptation of Ferrante’s 1970s-set novel, “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay,” was unveiled Wednesday during an online presser held in Rome by RAI, ahead of its premiere on Feb. 6 on the pubcaster’s flagship RAI 1 station.
“My Brilliant Friend: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay” follows Lila (Gaia Gerace), who married at 16, has a young son, left her husband and comfortable life and is now working in a factory under tough conditions. Elena, aka Lenù, (Margherita Mazzucco) meanwhile has left the Naples neighborhood, earned her college degree and published a successful novel, all of which has opened doors to an affluent and high-brow world.
Both women, in different ways, are pushing against the boundaries of a life of misery, ignorance and submission. They navigate the opportunities that have opened up due to 1970s societal changes, and they are still very much bound to each other.
Stylistically, while the first two seasons, directed mostly by Saverio Costanzo, took their cue respectively from Neorealism and the French New Wave, the third installment, directed by veteran Italian auteur Daniele Luchetti (“My Brother Is an Only Child,” “The Ties”) references U.S. indie cinema of the 1970s, specifically the works of John Cassavetes, especially in the way Luchetti worked with his actors.
“I’ve always been a film buff and am very taken by how John Cassavetes worked with actors,” Luchetti told Variety during the shoot.
“In tackling this season, even though I had very well written dialogues, I tried to put the main actors in a situation where they had more freedom — the type of freedom that is born from American cinema of the 1970s,” he said.
“We worked a lot on subtexts, on building character, on the character arcs. I even got special staff to train the actors, so that something unexpected could happen on set, which is what cinema in those years did: put the spectator in front of something unexpected,” Luchetti went on to note.
Producer Lorenzo Mieli at the Rome press conference noted that this season of “My Brilliant Friend” posed several challenges. One being that the leads, who are both 18, had to play women older than they are. From a practical standpoint, despite constraints due to the pandemic, the set moved quite a lot, going from Naples to Pisa, Florence and Urbino “just as the narrative also leaped out of bounds.”
“My Brilliant Friend” is produced by The Apartment and Wildside, both Fremantle companies, along with FremantleMedia Italia and Fandango Production, in collaboration with Rai Fiction and HBO Entertainment. The story and screenplays are by Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci and Saverio Costanzo.
Watch the trailer below.