My Brilliant Friend 3.06: “Becoming” Review

“To become was a verb I’ve always been obsessed by, but I only realized it on that occasion. I wanted to become something, but I never knew what. I just feared Lila would become someone and I’d be left behind. My becoming had actually been becoming in her wake. I had to start becoming again, but only for myself, as an adult and detached from her for good.”

I’ve always wanted to become something, someone. That desire was propulsive, monstrous, and all-consuming. It was conflated with ambition and with an idea that achievement would dispel my self-hatred. It insulated me from everything and everyone I didn’t want to see, lest they come in the way of that desire or, worse, reveal it for the hollowness that it was. That desire collapses upon itself slowly when you don’t know who you are or if you are pushing the truth of yourself away. Fractures of discontent, melancholia, and a sense of loss destabilize you. “What am I doing? Why am I so unhappy? Why do I feel like I’m drifting around, held together by threads that are anchored in some sea that I don’t even know?”

By virtue of human connection, we spend our most formative years moulding ourselves into something, someone others want us to be. Those different versions are sometimes competitive and at other times compounding. But they all bleed into one another and can often oscillate between a blanket of comfort and a toxic entanglement of thorns. “Find yourself,” “Be yourself,” or “Become the best you” – these slogans appear on pillows and coffee shops in boutique stores in bougie neighbourhoods. It’s easy to say such platitudes, but executing them is far more difficult. You have to go through each layer that composes your being, lifting each one up for introspection, and wince as it leaves a scrape, sting, and healing wound in its wake.

When you finally recognize yourself, you can find that process of “becoming” is what you’ve been searching for. In episode six of My Brilliant Friend, Elena (Margherita Mazzucco) finds herself discontent, which slowly cracks through her life. This ache has finally become unsustainable. In a nightmare, she glimpsed a version of herself she hated. This version of herself would get into a violent fight with Lila (Gaia Girace). It’s a version of herself that becomes aggressive at the mere sight of Lila. It was the version of herself that Elena feels is closest to who she has become and it isn’t who she wants to be. She gives Lila an embrace, an air of finality as she realizes that her relationship with her best friend has led her to a place of toxicity leading her further and further away from her ideal self.

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Elena formed so much of her identity in Lila’s shadow, in the shadow of Pietro (Matteo Cecchi), and in her parents’ shadow. And as she sits in the car, driving away from Naples and back towards the tortured existence of married life, she thinks about what it means for her to become herself. Her marriage is a disaster. Her writing life is a disaster. Such promises awaited her and they have all become spectacles of disappointment and melancholia. Her identity has been so entirely subsumed by everyone and everything around her and she realizes not just that that is the case, but that she has to actively embrace a different path so she can become her own self. A slow smile forms across her face and, in that moment, Elena knows what she has to do to become who she truly is. What a triumph, that realization, even if the road for that realization to be actualized will be tumultuous. But Elena isn’t a stranger to tumult and now at least she has a grounding, a foundation upon which she can start to build a future for herself, defined by her own agency.

Notes:

– Elena as a reckless driver is a great, hilarious character note
– Pietro describing Lila’s intelligence as “sowing discord” speaks volumes about who he is
– I appreciated Elena asking after Alfonso (Fabrizio Cottone), perhaps reflecting on her behaviour with the guilt it warranted
– Lila could understand Alfonso being queer but not him wanting to transition. It’s not about copying or studying, Lila. It’s about understanding an experience that maybe is much closer to who you really are

Best Quotes:

– “When do people really talk? When do things happen suddenly?”
– “Her exceptionalism frightened him, he sought to dismiss her.”
– “The things that happen when there’s money involved.”
– “Speed mars everything. Like when photographs come out blurry.”
– “In fairy tales, you do what you want. In life, you do what you can.”
– “You have to accept her as she is. and if you can’t be kind and affectionate, learn how. That’s how you have to become.”



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