The novels of Elena Ferrante, which is a pseudonym, have enthralled many people, especially women who find insight into character portrayals set in Naples. The documentary by director Giacomo Durzi comes across as a lavish salute to the author.

The method is to present an entourage of testimony by various authorities praising Ferrante for the insightful stories and discussing why they have attained such an international following.

The problem is that these tributes go on endlessly with the points being made over and over again, so that the film suffers from overkill. It would have been much more interesting if the director had spent extensive time exploring the question of the real identity of the author.

There has been plenty of speculation on the subject. There have been attempts to identity the writer, but they have been shot down. It has been mainly taken for granted that Ferrante is a woman. But what if the author were a man?

The argument against that is the way in which the writer gets into the hearts of women, their feelings and life experiences. However, remember that the great Swedish film director Ingmar Berman made extremely perceptive films about women.

Whatever the case, an inquiry into the mystery of Ferrante’s identity would have made the film more fascinating above and beyond the valid but repetitive tributes. A Greenwich Entertainment release. Reviewed March 8, 2019.

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