‘Brilliant Friend’ couldn’t be done in English, says TV director

The director turning Elena Ferrante’s “Neapolitan Novels” into an HBO television series said there was no way the stories could have been filmed in English or adapted to take place in America.

The first two episodes of “My Brilliant Friend” – a co-production with Italian broadcaster RAI – screened at the Venice Film Festival this week to warm reviews.

“It’s impossible to make the adaption of ‘My Brilliant Friend’ in any other country than Italy because the language is crucial,” said Saverio Costanzo, who directed the TV version of the story of two girls growing up in Naples in the 1950s.

The 75th Venice International Film Festival – Photocall?for the film “My Brilliant Friend”

It is not only U.S. audiences that will have to read subtitles. The Italian version will also have them for some of the scenes as the Neapolitan dialect is hard to understand for anyone outside the southern port city.

Costanzo said he still did not know the novelist’s real identity. Ferrante’s decision to hide behind a pen-name and not publicly identify herself is a real-life literary mystery story that has added to the allure of her books that are best-sellers in Europe and the United States.

The Hollywood Reporter said the series had got off to an “extraordinarily promising beginning”.

“My Brilliant Friend is blissfully neither based in a gauzy nostalgia nor mired in an affected documentary-style misery porn. It simply and cleanly embraces the details of everyday life, occasionally dirty or impoverished or ominous, spiked with moments of memory-infused whimsy.”

The Venice Film Festival runs from Aug. 29 to Sept 8.

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