Director Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 film Call Me By Your Name had millennials everywhere crying their eyes out – partly because of the heart-breaking story, but mostly out of jealousy that didn’t spend the summers of their childhood cycling round rural Italy and falling in love with hot strangers. And Guadagnino is back at it again, this time making Gen Z reach for the tissues.
We Are Who We Are is the coming-of-age story of a group of US teens, all living in the same American airbase in Italy. They’ve already got a fair amount going on, what with questioning their sexualities, figuring out their identities, wondering what it is to be moral…and on top of that, Trump is tinkering about in the background, about to win the 2016 election. With all this swinging about like a teenager’s mood, the last thing they need is a newbie in the group making things even more messy. Enter 14-year-old Fraser, a stereotype of baggy t-shirts, apathy and AirPods that seem to be superglued to his ears.
Thankfully, before we start to hate him too much, he makes friends with Caitlin. Caitlin is battling the constraints of gender norms – hiding her hair under a cap, reluctantly kissing her boyfriend and wanting to go by the more neutral name, Harper – when Fraser introduces her to the concept of gender fluidity, and the world of transitioning. With them we go on a heady journey of self-discovery which is drifted through at a languid pace, leisurely trailing the lives of these confused almost-adults, making ample room for their enormous emotions and self-doubt, both of which struggle to coexist with their enlarged, adolescent egos.
In The Independent, Alexandra Pollard says the series is “potent” and poetic,” commenting “the more you watch, the more that shrug of a title starts to make sense.” James Poniewozik in The New York Times thinks: “Guadagnino’s gift here is more for atmosphere and emotion, and the episodes burst with them. They’re rich with sun and salt and a touch of melancholy.” The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan says, “If beautifully shot, languorously paced character and mood pieces are your thing, you are going to be very happy with eight hours of this,” but “for others…We Are Who We Are may feel too inert to be worth keeping faith with.”
First shown November 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here: