Arts & Culture, Film & TV

We Are Who We Are (2020) – Review

Written by Holly Aylward

Watching Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino’s new series We Are Who We Are is an. Immersive and unique experience. The elegant storytelling which takes place across the eight episodes of this show will put you under its spell and transport you into its world.

This is Guadagnino’s first time directing for TV and hopefully won’t be his last as the format emphasises his strengths as a director. With a nearly 10-hour total run time, the characters are given space to meander their way through a haze of teenage angst and self-discovery.

The first two episodes of the series tell the story of the same day from two different perspectives. The first follows Fraser, withdrawn, fidgety and never without headphones in., We meet him staring up at a lost and found sign in an airport where he has just arrived on an American military base in Italy which will now be his new home. The second follows Caitlin, his new neighbour. She is relaxed and popular and, on the surface, appears more settled. However, she is also desperately trying to develop into  the person she wants to be. This is what binds the two as unlikely friends as together, they navigate their ever- growing and shifting identities.

The series is a finely crafted sensory experience. As a viewer you can taste, touch and smell everything on the screen. There is an atmosphere and energy throughout as the teens in the series act on impulse. Certain moments feel as if the internal experience of youth has been made outwardly visible. A hedonistic house party or a chaotic paint fight become centre pieces of teenage spontaneity. The series is also an ode to any young person who has ever felt confused and unsure of who they are. In a world where there is increasing pressure to figure out your exact identity, it is refreshing to watch something where characters are not put into stereotypical boxes. Across the series characters are ever changing and evolving as their journeys of self-discovery are portrayed with nuance and great empathy.

Ultimately the series demonstrates the joy that can be found in uncertainty and the peace which comes from finding people who accept you as you are. When asked what he hoped audiences would feel after watching the series Guadagnino answered, “I hope the audience feels love. I hope they feel confusion. I hope they feel restlessness and eventually I hope they understand all of the people that we describe. I hope we leave season one of We Are Who We Are with the desire of loving and being loved”.


Holly Aylward is a second year English student and treasurer for Leicester Student Magazine

Photo from here