Director Alice Rohrwacher turns in a season-best episode that blows up all people’s lives, for higher and for worse.
[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “My Brilliant Friend,” Season 2, Episode 5, “The Betrayal.”]
Practically each second of “The Betrayal,” from the unstable Dutch angles of the cinematography to Max Richter’s chilling rating, is constructing as much as the episode’s remaining third like a horror film. “My Good Buddy” has been working on this monitor all season, with morbid prospers within the visuals and sound design mounting towards an terrible inevitability. Directed by Alice Rohrwacher, this episode is the season’s darkest and strongest hour but.
This week, that got here on the shoulders of a cast-aside Lenu (Margherita Mazzucco), now an enabling third wheel within the ongoing illicit affair between Nino and Lila, surrendering her virginity to Nino’s father, the shady railroad employee Donato Sarratore (Emanuele Valenti). Don fancies himself an mental and a author, nevertheless it seems he’s simply as brute an animal as many of the nasty Neapolitan males. This unsettling encounter unfolds beneath the starry night time on the empty seaside, the place Lenu’s gone to really feel sorry for herself and stare into the void.
Lenu at first instigates the sexual encounter with Donato, who’s been eyeing her since she got here to Ischia, nevertheless it’s apparent as he pumps and grunts that she feels nothing however contempt and disgust, seeming to depart her physique in the best way we perceive many rape victims to do whereas surrendering energy. But Lenu can be wielding energy, which makes this scene further queasy and sophisticated. Donato writes off his pedophiliac transgression as a case of “the center needs what it needs,” which you would possibly recall is how Woody Allen summed up his emotions for Quickly-Yi Previn with a Saul Bellow misquote.
Lenu would a lot reasonably be in mattress with Nino than beneath the hulking weight of a grimy previous man, or the persevering with leers of sad-boy Bruno (Francesco Russo), who lastly makes a transfer on Lenu this episode. However Donato’s brooding-poet son Nino (Francesco Serpico) has chosen Lila (Gaia Girace) for his summer season fling, their glistening, sea-salted our bodies galloping on the seaside and swimming within the water by day, and fondling one another in the dead of night behind closed doorways by night time as Lenu performs the watchman, envious and repulsed. I’m reminded of the lyrics from the music “Valentine” by Fiona Apple, a bitter lament of jealousy and heartbreak towards an unnamed, different lady residing her greatest life whereas your individual stagnates, a music a lot about desirous to be that individual you admire: “Whilst you had been watching another person/I stared at you and lower myself…I watch you reside to have my enjoyable.”
Lila, in the meantime, seems to be experiencing sexual need for the primary time with Nino. “I found what a kiss was,” she tells Lenu as a form of blanketing mea culpa for her adulterous actions, as if extramarital love had been a drive larger than her, earlier than reassuring Lenu that, don’t fear, he’s going to make use of a condom. (“What’s a condom?” Lenu asks. “It’s a factor you place over it.”) And despite the fact that her husband Stefano (Giovanni Amura) is sure to seek out out, particularly after being noticed by Michele Solara (Alessio Gallo) holding Nino’s hand on the seaside, Lila has no regard for the implications. Her agnostic angle towards life’s meaninglessness is properly summed up in her description of the celebrities within the night time sky as however “random shards in blue bitumen.”
That second the place Michele Solara — Stefano’s enterprise associate — and resident busybody Gigliola Spagnuola (Rosaria Langellotto) spy Lila’s treachery beachside is among the most jaw-dropping moments in an episode of many, and it spells catastrophe. As soon as Lenu and Lila return again to their summer season residence after an evening on the Sarratores’, Stefano is ready, fuming, on the kitchen desk. Lila drives the nail so far as potential into her husband’s arm by parading her summer season romance in entrance of him, Lenu, and her mom. “We swim, we kiss, we contact! He’s fucked me 100 instances!” Stefano — to his credit score, which isn’t saying a lot for this awful pig — flinches with wounded pleasure, however he doesn’t hit his spouse. As a substitute, the punishment is probably rather more extreme, and everlasting, as he drags her ass, together with Lenu, again to Naples to renew their shitty life. On the ferry again to the town, Lenu stares off into the water, mourning the loss of life of an countless summer season, and doubtless her closest friendship.
“With Lila, issues by no means go properly. Should you don’t need to undergo worse than you already are, don’t count on something,” Lenu tells Nino early on the episode after he’s fessed to kissing Lila, which Lenu already knew about. As a lot as Lenu envies her pal’s boldness in taking no matter she needs, she now appears to pity Lila and the injury she’s triggered. However that’s seemingly only a entrance to veil the harm and heartache boiling at her heart, overshadowed as soon as once more by her good and crafty pal.
But there’s a silver lining. With the darkness settling over Lenu, there’s a storm in her mind and a energy now steeling inside her (carried as all the time magnificently by Mazzucco in a season-best efficiency). “I wanted that proper there on the ocean shore murderers would come out of the night time and torture my physique,” the grown-up Lenu says in voiceover (by Alba Rohrwacher) earlier than her encounter with Donato. “That the worst would occur to me, one thing so devastating it might cease me from going through that night time, the hours and the times to come back, reminding me with more and more crushing proof of my unsuited situation.” She is aware of who she is, and whether or not she likes it or not, she has Lila to thank. But it surely’s time to maneuver on. Lenu is not, within the phrases of Fiona Apple, “a fugitive too boring to flee.”
“My Good Buddy” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.
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