“Slow-burning but intimate” – We Are Who We Are (TV Review)

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Luca Guadagnino has made a name for himself as a filmmaker after crafting impeccable films, such as I Am Love, A Bigger Splash, and especially Call Me by Your Name. Now, Guadagnino has made the transition from film to TV with his new series, We Are Who We Are, which focuses on two teens, Fraser and Caitlin, both of which live within a U.S. military base in Italy in 2016, shortly before Donald Trump was elected president. Fraser is a difficult, hyper-intelligent yet angsty person that’s always lashing out at his mother, whereas Caitlin is actually more confident and than Fraser but is somewhat enigmatic and is struggling with her own gender identity. Eventually, the two meet and start forming a close bond despite outside forces that threaten to break that relationship apart.

This is slow-burning, but intimate, coming-of-age series that explores the notions of deep friendship, one’s own identity, being noticed, first love, and how we relate to others as well as ourselves, resulting in this deep exploration about the anguishing throes of being a teenager. What’s even more fascinating is that we start out with two teens who we either don’t know much about (in the case of Caitlin) or kinda don’t sympathise with (in the case of Fraser), but by the end, having spent so much time seeing them going through their own struggles and bonding with each other, we come to understand them much better and want them to be together despite what’s going on around them. The best episode is the final episode since that explores the possibility of what those two can be like without being confined to the military base, having that sense of freedom for the first time in their lives.

Material this weighty and this heartfelt required strong young talent to pull this off and this drama succeeds in finding a solid cast of teens. Jack Dylan Grazer has always been a bright, spark of talent ever since IT: Chapter One and Shazam!, and he delivers again here, except he delivers a much more nuanced performance that feels honest and believable, which is also the same for newcomer Jordan Kristine Seamón, who’s grounded performance makes her a real rising talent to watch out for.

At the end of it all, We Are Who We Are is a story about two teens that live within their own personal worlds that are lost in life who end up coming together, being each other’s personal saviour, and forming a close bond that defines both them. It is a moving, coming-of-age teen drama that deserves to be seen, and shows that Luca Guadagnino is a storyteller for TV as well as film.

Dir: Luca Guadagnino

Scr: Luca Guadagnino, Paolo Giordano, Francesca Manieri

Cast: Jack Dylan Grazer, Jordan Kristine Seamón, Chloë Sevigny, Alice Braga, Spence Moore II, Scott Mescudi, Faith Alabi, Francesca Scorsese, Ben Taylor, Corey Knight, Tom Mercier

Music: Devonté Hynes

Year: 2020

Country: US, Italy

Number of Episodes: 8

Episode Run time: 49-75mins

We Are Who We Are is on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital now

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