This can be a principally spoiler-free evaluation of HBO’s We Are Who We Are, created by Luca Guadagnino.
After remaking Dario Argento’s occult dance horror Suspiria, Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino returns along with his first tv collection, We Are Who We Are, a wandering infinite summer time amongst teenagers. For these acquainted with Name Me By Your Identify, his HBO present explores related themes: teenagers discovering their id, hormonal horniness, and the mundanity of American expats residing in Italy. Set on a navy base in 2016, We Are Who We Are follows two teenagers — Fraser Wilson (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Caitlin Harper (Jordan Kristine Seamon) — who’re coming of age.
Even with the acquainted information of Name Me By Your Identify, the present’s conceit withers underneath its myopic lens. The premiere, “Proper Right here, Proper Now I” (every episode carries the identical title) tracks Fraser restlessly wandering the bottom for hijinks, and although he gained’t admit it, for buddies. Fraser, an androgynous child with semi-bleached hair and black-and-yellow coloured nails, arrives on the American base along with his two moms: Sarah (Chloë Sevigny) and Maggie (Alice Braga) — extra on them later — heartbroken that he’s left his good friend Mark in New York. Via Fraser we meet Caitlin, a assured lady who, on the floor, seems to be his exact opposite.
Guadagnino, and his co-writers Paolo Giordano and Francesca Manieri, battle to construct out the supporting characters round Fraser and Caitlin. Although Sarah and Maggie are two girls in a dedicated relationship, with thriving careers in a navy that after instituted Don’t Ask, Don’t Inform, the lens hardly ever factors their means except Fraser occupies their house. Confoundingly, their household nucleus is far-fetched. Fraser and Sarah share a very shut relationship, one thing bordering on an Oedipus Advanced, besides the younger teen loves Maggie — the gentler mother or father — too. Fraser is usually abusive; in a single scene he viciously slaps Sarah, but nonetheless culls affection from her. The thought of a stern base commander as a laissez-faire mom slapped round, and completely on the behest of her younger teenage son, whereas her dutiful spouse watches, by no means tracks.
We Are Who We Are Gallery
The present suffers from different skinny characters, too. Whereas we study that Caitlin loves sporting boy garments, refers to herself underneath the gender-neutral identify of Harper, and is very shut together with her military father Richard (Child Cudi), the individuals round her lack complexity. For example, Caitlin’s older brother Danny suffers from melancholy and anger points — he doesn’t take care of his sister’s perceived promiscuity — however the one rationalization given for such frustration comes from “loving God.” We additionally study that Caitlin’s cheery Nigerian mom, Jennifer (Religion Alabi), was as soon as Muslim. Are we meant to imagine his rage stems from his faith? The solutions linger simply out of sight. Caitlin’s father Richard — who she lovingly spars with — operates a motorboat together with her, and the pair carry out smuggling missions. However his sternness, and covert homophobia, don’t make a three-dimensional character. As a substitute, her household consists of fascinating concepts, however nothing absolutely thought by way of.
Even the middle of the collection — the teenagers — lack any defining traits aside from their horniness. And We Are Who We Are is a particularly sexy present. Each teen is concerned in some lover’s quarrel. Caitlin’s boyfriend Sam (Ben Taylor) is extraordinarily possessive, but principally mopes when his affections aren’t reciprocated. Her finest good friend Britney (Francesca Scorsese) is overtly interested by just about everybody: Sam, Enrico (whose sole character traits are his curiosity in Britney and his Veneto heritage), and Fraser — who the group typically refers to as t-shirt, as a consequence of him not eradicating his shirt whereas on the seashore. Different characters possess even much less dynamism, resembling Danny’s finest good friend Craig, a soldier in his twenties drawn to Caitlin, and hanging with teenagers.
The 4 episodes offered to critics are additionally with out true arcs. They meander like the teenagers, with a sense of ennui throughout an infinite summer time. By the point audiences arrive on the rudderless fourth episode, involving a marriage between two characters who’ve hardly ever appeared collectively within the present, nothing feels remotely earned. In reality, episode 4 options zero character improvement among the many thrusting dancing our bodies partying within the commandeered white modernist dwelling of a wealthy Russian. The lurid photos of sweet sixteen libido and full-frontal nudity attempt to buoy the weak storytelling, however the complete scene is simply ineffective debauchery.
Nobody can fault Guadagnino for the visuals. We Are Who We Are bursts with evocative monitoring pictures and pans, and putting tableaus. Guadagnino builds out Fraser’s character by capturing, by way of pans, the posters devoted to The Final Tango in Paris, Blue Velvet, and Klaus Nomi hanging on his wall. Usually, the director employs freeze frames of characters in the course of the peak of their happiness, as if to entice them within the amber of youth. And the way in which he juxtaposes the manicured suburban picture of a person mowing his garden with the distant screams of an altercation, or when he contrasts Caitlin studying Leaves of Grass whereas troopers discuss of gang rape on the opposite aspect of a wall, explains the 2 competing realities of the regimented base.
And naturally, what’s a Guadagnino work with out a dance sequence? On this occasion, it’s Caitlin grooving to Raf’s Self Management. However amongst the pictures and dialogue, there is no such thing as a significant battle. No upsetting incident that binds the swirl of sunny seashores and teenage intercourse collectively to indicate something significant.
The pull of Guadagnino recapturing Name Me By Your Identify, besides in eight hour-long episodes — of which 4 got for evaluation — would possibly entice viewers with the identical aura of a heat of Italian seashore, however the result’s uneven and maddening. Although the complete forged presents max effort — particularly Glazer because the introverted Fraser; Seamon because the daring however mysterious Harper; and Cudi within the function of taciturn father — the writing doesn’t supply the avenues wanted for them to totally discover their characters. Showrunning calls for a unique talent set than filmmaking, and never all of Guadagnino’s masterful skills come to the fore, right here.
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