We Are Who We Are (Guadagnino) Review

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“We Are Who We Are” is a captivating coming-of-age drama series created by Luca Guadagnino, known for his acclaimed film “Call Me By Your Name.” This marks Guadagnino’s first venture into television, and he aims to provide audiences with an understanding of the complexities of love, confusion, and restlessness during the journey of self-discovery. Drawing thematic parallels to “Call Me By Your Name,” the series delves into a wider range of issues, including love, friendship, and identity particularly in terms of gender and sexuality within the concentrated and intense environment of an overseas US military base.

A New Beginning in Italy

The story revolves around fourteen-year-old Fraser, played brilliantly by Jack Dylan Grazer, who relocates from New York to Italy with his mothers, newly appointed base Commander Sarah (Chloe Sevigny) and her wife Maggie (Alice Braga). Fraser, initially shy and conspicuous with his bold fashion choices, quickly develops a close bond with Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seaman), a young resident who has spent years living on the military base. Together, they navigate the tumultuous and multifaceted world of adolescence, finding themselves in a regimented and isolated slice of America while surrounded by the liberating aura of Italy.

A Slow Start and Complex Characters

For avid fans of Guadagnino, his distinctive directorial style becomes apparent in the initial episodes, as we follow Fraser’s exploration of his new environment. However, newcomers may find it challenging to connect with the story. The slow pacing and Fraser’s bratty and petulant behavior create some initial barriers to embracing him as a character. Yet, as the series unfolds, it becomes evident that his actions stem from a deep sense of displacement and isolation in a foreign land. Jack Dylan Grazer’s portrayal deliberately exudes an awkwardness that resonates with the audience. The character’s mood swings mirror those experienced by many teenagers, making him simultaneously frustrating and endearing. Ultimately, as the narrative progresses, Fraser becomes more relatable and easier to invest in.

The dynamics between Fraser and his mothers, however, prove to be more complex. Their interactions oscillate between childlike moments of affection and intimate conversations that verge on the adult spectrum. At times, their relationship takes on a mutually abusive nature, introducing an uncomfortable and intricate dynamic that is never fully explored.

Captivating Performances and Caitlin’s Journey

Jordan Kristine Seamon delivers a standout performance as Caitlin, captivating the audience with her portrayal of a seemingly confident and self-assured character who gradually reveals her struggle with gender identity. Seamon’s understated approach is both authentic and believable. From the delicate handling of male clothing to the tender gestures towards Fraser’s face and legs, every nuance of Caitlin’s character adds depth and realism to the story. The chemistry between Seamon and Grazer is palpable, as they convey a deep mutual connection while navigating their individual self-discoveries. Their relationship emerges as the focal point of the series, around which the other plotlines revolve.

Lost Momentum and Underdeveloped Characters

One notable flaw in the series is the loss of momentum when the focus shifts to other characters and their stories. While these concurrent plots explore weighty themes such as religious struggles, power dynamics, and infidelity, they fail to create the same level of compelling narrative. The lack of character development undermines the emotional resonance expected from these storylines, leaving them feeling somewhat flat. Although the acting remains naturalistic, at times it struggles to align with the dialogue, resulting in moments that feel stilted. In essence, the series attempts to tackle too much, spreading its focus thin across multiple characters and issues, detracting from the central journey of Fraser and Caitlin.

Visual Brilliance and Intimate Portraits

Despite its shortcomings, “We Are Who We Are” shines visually. Guadagnino’s masterful use of different color palettes and point-of-view shots immerses the audience in the characters’ lives, creating an intimate and personal experience. Two standout shots frame the narrative perfectly: the first captures Fraser stumbling through a foreign landscape, drenched in sunlight as he searches for connection, while the second focuses on Caitlin walking alone through the deserted streets of Bologna, contemplating her true identity. These shots epitomize the essence of the series, showcasing the solitary nature of self-discovery.

A Rewarding Journey with an Unsatisfying Resolution

Sticking with the series proves to be rewarding, albeit slightly frustrating. The finale, set during a concert, allows Fraser and Caitlin to embrace their true selves, delivering a delightful culmination to their personal journeys. However, the resolution of other plotlines feels unsatisfying in comparison. “We Are Who We Are” reaffirms Guadagnino’s ability to capture the tumultuous experiences of teenage life, showcasing his talent for visual storytelling. Nonetheless, the show falls short in fully developing its characters outside of Fraser and Caitlin, preventing the emotional impact from reaching its full potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is “We Are Who We Are” based on a true story?

No, “We Are Who We Are” is not based on a true story. It is a fictional coming-of-age drama created by Luca Guadagnino.

2. Where is the series set?

The series is primarily set on an overseas US military base in Italy, providing a unique backdrop for the exploration of love, friendship, and self-discovery.

3. How many episodes are there in the series?

“We Are Who We Are” consists of eight episodes, each exploring deeper into the lives of the characters as they navigate the challenges of adolescence.

4. Can I watch “We Are Who We Are” without having seen “Call Me By Your Name”?

Absolutely! While “We Are Who We Are” shares thematic similarities with “Call Me By Your Name,” it stands on its own as a separate and distinct story. There is no prerequisite to watch “Call Me By Your Name” before exploring into this series.

5. Will there be a second season of “We Are Who We Are”?

As of now, there are no official announcements regarding a second season. “We Are Who We Are” was initially planned as a limited series. However, given its popularity, there is always a possibility of future developments.

In conclusion, “We Are Who We Are” presents viewers with a thought-provoking exploration of love, confusion, and self-discovery. Although it has its flaws, the series successfully captures the essence of the teenage experience through its visual brilliance and compelling performances. As viewers join Fraser and Caitlin on their journey, they are sure to be captivated by the struggles and triumphs of these complex characters in their pursuit of truth and identity.