My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend Episode 2.03: “Erasure” Review

Sometimes you’re standing in the middle of a crowded room that echoes with bustling laughter, a chorus of rousing music, and the clinks of fragile glasses. Yet somehow we are invisible, erased from the very canvas of that room as if we are no longer in a corporeal form. Someone could walk right through us and not feel a thing. It’s a thin line, at those times, between merely existing and being acknowledged. Such instances evoke a sense of erasure when one feels one does not deserve to be in that place, whatever it may be.

For Lila (Gaia Girace), the party at Elena’s (Margherita Mazzucco) professor’s home represents two distinct parts of her life. She faces a sense of erasure in each part. The first is the partial erasure of the life she desired in academia, which offered independence from marriage and a pathway towards claiming a life she knows she is capable of achieving.

The second is the erasure of her self by those around her. This dismissal ingrains two things in her mind. One is the disdain for and condescension towards, those who are wealthier than her, and those who had opportunities that her family could never even dream. The second is a fear that if Lila had access to what Elena has, which a part of her so desperately wants, she would become like the very people who dismissed her at that party, at which point, she would be unable to recognize herself.

Lila is terrified that her identity is being erased and consumed by the existence of Signora Carracci. She feels ashamed knowing where the Carraccis’ and Solaras’ get their money. She starts erasing herself, which is perhaps why she is trying to reclaim what she has erased by acts of generosity.

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Elena is worried about being erased by Lila herself. As Stefano (Giovanni Amura) drives them to the party, Elena worries that Lila is smarter, more beautiful. The sense of self that Elena senses from Lila would erase the lack of self that Elena feels. At the party, Elena prevents herself from being erased during a conversation about the ethics of violence in political movements, but Lila feels that Elena has actively done just that.

Long friendships, as Elena’s professor notes, are important. But maintaining them is difficult. The underlying, simmering tension between Lila and Elena erupts and sharply divides their relationship. Lila, in her insecurities, lashes out at Elena and her peers with sharp sarcasm. It comes through as a defense mechanism, a self-assurance mechanism, but it also has the effect of erasing Elena’s experience.

Elena, wounded by Lila’s spiteful words, moves away from her and towards Nino (Francesco Serpico). That charge from Lila that she was erasing herself, for the people, who she argued were “incapable of an original thought,” ingrains itself into her mind. You see bits and pieces of that in how Elena interacts with the boy she wants to kiss. It’s difficult, to find, define, and live yourself without being lost, being erased.

Notes:

+ The opening sequence in which Lila constructs a collage of herself is excellent.
+ Lila’s happiness at her miscarriage is tragic because it means so much for her triumph of self.
+ “Money can be never be clean.”
+ Ah yes, the smell of a new book.
+ Elena’s mother crying at the smell of a new book got to me. What a quiet, tragic, touching scene.
+ There’s a sequence where Lila and Elena are picking dresses for the party and the camera makes sure to divide them constantly through the framing of the mirror. It’s such a simple touch, but one that adds a profound depth of character, story, and detail.
+ A student casually bumping into Lila and then walking away without so much as an apology was a great little touch.
+ The transition from the shadow kiss to Elena and Antonio on the stair was beautifully elegant.
+ Nino’s horror at potentially looking like his father is another poignant exploration of the episode’s theme and a great character beat.

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*Previous reviews noted Nino’s name as Antonio. For the sake of consistency, future reviews will use the name Nino

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