We Are Who We Are, co-written and directed by Luca Guadagnino–notorious for critically acclaimed 2017 film Call Me By Your Name–is a complex tale of teenage angst, riddled with complicated interpersonal relationships. The newest HBO drama miniseries parallels Guadagnino’s past work, focusing on a young, queer, adolescent boy and his tales of isolation and self-discovery.
We Are Who We Are follows teenage military brat Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer), and his moms in their turbulent new beginnings on an unfamiliar U.S. military base near a sleepy Italian seaside town. Right away, we see that Fraser is unique. From his clothes to his hair and even the way he carries himself, the viewer comes to learn that he is a relentless, skittish, and impulsive teenager whose oppositional nature makes nothing in life easy.
Episode one follows Fraser’s chaotic introduction to the physical and social inner workings of the place that he must begin to call home. Fraser is constantly observing, looking from the outside in, and trying to figure out this unfamiliar space before it swallows him whole. In his discoveries of the various twists and turns of the military base, he encounters two teens who pique his interest completely: quiet and intense Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamon) and blunt and enigmatic Britney (Francesca Scorsese).
As Fraser tries to observe (in other words, stalk) Caitlin, it is revealed that Fraser is driven by curiosity and impulsivity. By the end of the day, Fraser’s impulsivity has led him to the point of social isolation that reveals his distraught and anxious nature. This aspect of his personality that causes a lot of turbulence within his relationships, both familial and friendly.
So far, We Are Who We Are is a brilliant coming of age mini series that is immediately captivating and intriguing to its audience. Ringing true to the nature of many HBO original series, it is graphic, but not so much so that it can be described as anything less than tasteful and honest. The most captivating aspects of this show are the relationships, which are developed and intensified over time. Fraser’s entire character is revealed through his interactions with others, and it is not difficult to tell that as time progresses, these relationships will only become more complex.
Another exciting attribute of Guadagninos’ latest work is the pacing and visual aesthetics. Each visual aspect of the episode is wonderfully executed; the set design, videography, and wardrobe equally contribute to creating a tense, intimate masterpiece of storytelling just as much as the dialogue does. As the episode progresses, the pacing emulates Fraser’s increasingly lost and overwhelmed inner turmoil. Each scene becomes more choppy, with shorter intervals with more time passing in between each new interaction. By the end of the episode, Fraser reveals that while he puts up a complicated and mystic facade of quirkiness (near unhinged), he is still a teenage boy looking for answers and acceptance.
We Are Who We Are is strikingly captivating and complex, with unique and outlandish characters coupled with well-paced visual storytelling; viewers will be on the edge of their seats the entire time.