When talking about the promising and new projects launched by “Netflix” at the beginning of this year, we must mention in the forefront the Italian-language series The Lying Life of Adults, which is based on the novel by writer Elena Franti, which was chosen by Time magazine as one. Among the 100 most influential people of 2016.
This was not Franti’s first work adapted for television, but was preceded by the HBO series My Brilliant Friend, the first novel under the same title from the famous Neapolitan Quartet that Franti completed over four consecutive years. It is not surprising that the works of the 79-year-old writer attract film and television drama directors and makers wherever they are, due to their contemporary themes, visual imagination, and poetic and literary dialogues, formulated in the spoken Italian language, and taking from the alleys of the suburbs and their struggles as themes.
The heroine of the new series, Giovanna (Giordana Marengo), a teenager who suffers from her poor grades, lives in the confines of her left-wing and academic parents, trying to create some friendships in a grandiose environment that is not compatible with her spontaneous ideas, nor with her literary interests.
Once she hears her father, Andrea (Alessandro Preziosi), likens her to her aunt Vittoria (Valeria Golino), who has been excluded from her affluent brother’s house for years, and she is curious to know the secret of the absent aunt, even about group photo albums. Soon, Giovanna knocks on the door of the “bogeyman of childhood” for the first time, and then begins a journey of exploring her own identity, amidst a mixture of feelings of rebellion, contentment, and attempts to understand the past years and what has infiltrated Giovanna’s nuclear family.
As evidenced by its title, the series “False Adult Lives” discusses lies, especially those that some call life, or those “white” ones that infiltrate the essence of things, causing deep necrosis in which rubble accumulates in the form of a quiet dwelling in an upscale neighborhood. The series is divided into six chapters entitled: “Beauty”, “Similarity”, “Bitterness”, “Loneliness”, “Love” and “Truth”, each of which, in less than an hour, revolves around the family relationships that prevailed. There is a misunderstanding, and evasion has become the only way to escape from the inevitable pain caused by the truth.
The series follows the path of two successive generations fighting the battles of living in two separate environments, as Vittoria remained in the place from which her brother Andrea fled forever; The other, more rugged side of Naples, is the hometown of their impoverished family. Her house, in the loft of a brothel, is loose and worn out, full of cigarette butts that never leave Vittoria’s hand, even when she threatens someone with a knife. A sharp-tongued, uneducated woman who swears with her mouth, yet she is keen to visit the church every Sunday accompanied by the children of her late lover and his wife, while she has a great hatred for her brother Andrea, and holds him responsible for the misfortunes that befell their family, mocking his pseudo-educated aristocratic surroundings and “champagne socialism”. Amidst the elite sessions and their fabricated conversations.
Vittoria changes her teenage niece’s life as the boisterous aunt unknowingly answers Giovanna’s most intricate questions. She is the living antithesis of salon intellectuals and the closest example of street philosophers who derive their wisdom from life lessons and oral and religious traditions. Her way of living gives a practical lesson about the meaning of surviving difficult trials, especially for young girls who face the world as women for the first time, realize the joy of that journey and its many hardships, and learn about the meaning of love, the body and the other at the same time as they strive to pass other life tests as well, such as excellence. In studying, financial independence, and combating skepticism about the “female experience.” The latter forms a cornerstone in building most of Franti’s female characters, especially Vittoria, who seems to have gotten rid of those doubts after the death of her lover, and is determined to continue living as a single woman, loyal to her old love in her spirit and free in her body, adapting to the absence of dreams and aspirations, and the love she describes as “The Window in the Bathroom”, giving the disillusioned resignation of Giovanna, eager to find her own identity, a different and more honest perspective on the notions of freedom, sexuality and fidelity in marital relations.
Giovanna’s journey, which takes place in the nineties of the last century, in rejecting and adopting inherited identities, intersects with the identity disorder crisis experienced by the city of Naples itself, with the profound social transformations that it faced, and the spread of alternative and anarchist cultures after the end of the years of lead in the late eighties, which is The stage that most affects the fates of characters of different ages, as suggested by the creators.
The events of the series go back to reveal the story of Vittoria and her coming of age in a time of absence of coherent facts and the changing nature of conflicts, whether ideological, class or cultural. To the concepts of Marxism and its parties.
As for Giovanna, who is the daughter of the more open and political climate, she goes back to discover the roots of her family, not caring about politics, and is attracted to the religious Catholic school students who are far from the atmosphere of her upbringing. Unlike her peers, or even her parents and ancestors, Giovanna shows a slight interest in sex and questions of sexual identity. Although she seeks openness and shows liberal tendencies, she rejects her father’s betrayal of her mother, while the latter accepts him and works to restore their relationship, contrary to her progressive ideas, and for fear of the collapse of her family, which is in the lowest middle class.
The time difference between the experiences of the three women throughout the series is useful in asking about the achievements of decades of feminism and the tangible victories on the legal and moral levels, in improving the experience of young women, protecting their psychological worlds, and reintroducing them to the concepts of love and sex and the dynamics of the relationship with men.
In the chapter “The Truth”, Giovanna was surprised that women did not go far in this regard, and was amazed by the enormous influence of men on all the females around her, “even on brave and violent women like Vittoria”, who gives her life to her late lover, or educated and independent women, such as Her mother, who is discouraged by her husband’s absence. Giovanna is afraid of becoming another link in that endless chain, so she throws the bracelet inherited from the women of her family into the deep waters, and redraws her relationships with the males around her, including her father, without reproducing previous ideas and experiences.
The “false adult life” shows the radical transformations that individuals, families, and small communities go through, and monitors the changes that affect their ideas, principles, and habits over time, and make them other people, even those close to them fail to recognize them, drawing the arc of those transformations accurately, highlighting each A turning point or slope, as well as the one that led to the emergence of two worlds contradictory in their social geography, although they resulted from the division of the same family; The first is progressive, perched on the high hills of Naples, and the second is low, where the stray aunt lives. As for Giovanna’s world, it stretches between these two, on the broken bridge that leads to nowhere in front of her house, as if, like Giovanna’s world, it is still searching for its destination.
The series sees the world through the eyes of those who strive to understand it, and carves for itself a prominent place among many television and cinematic works that deal with stories of adulthood and search for what sheltered the darkness of the unknown.