The Lying Life of Adults review – another impeccable Elena Ferrante TV show
Netflix takes Ferrante’s coming-of-age tale about a bored teen and her brash, entrancing aunt and adds rocket fuel. They’re having a blast – and you will too
Elena Ferrante fans have been treated to two particularly wonderful, yet very different, screen versions of her work over the past couple of years, from Maggie Gyllenhaal’s elegant film The Lost Daughter to My Brilliant Friend, which remains one of the most stunning, if underwatched, literary adaptations of recent times. The Lying Life of Adults (Netflix) takes on Ferrante’s 2019 coming-of-age novel and, while it keeps good company, that also means it has a lot to prove. With the exception of a couple of stylistic quirks that don’t seem to belong, this energetic and charismatic six-parter mostly pulls it off with gusto.
In 1990s Naples, teenage Giovanna (a hugely impressive debut from Giordana Marengo) is bored and restless. Her parents are gorgeous, glamorous leftwing academics, while she feels like a misfit. Her grades are poor, she has little interest in anything other than novels (“I like all novels,” she tells her teacher, who points out that there is a bit more to succeeding at school than that), and, worse, she worries she is becoming ugly, having overheard her father, Andrea, expressing concerns that she is starting to look like her mysterious Aunt Vittoria, a woman evidently absent from their cosy family life. While Giovanna is so filled with teenage apathy she begins the series as a walking, barely talking shrug, Vittoria sparks her interest, and sets her off on an adventure that will explode her steady life as she knows it.