Portrait of adolescence, We Are Who We Are, now on Showmax

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WE Are Who We Are, now streaming first on Showmax, is the first TV series from Oscar-nominated Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria).

Caitlin and Fraser are two very different teens, but over the course of one scorching hot summer on the American army base outside Venice, Italy, where their parents are stationed, they form a bond that sparks a coming-of-age marked by huge personal awakenings, and emboldens them both to seek out their true identities and passions.

Set against the backdrop of US military life, with the conflict in Afghanistan rumbling in the background, the eight-part English-language drama boasts a talented cast and Guadagnino’s trademark sumptuous style and rich character narratives.

We Are Who We Are is based on the book by Italian writer and Premio Strega Literary Award winner Paolo Giordano (The Solitude of Prime Numbers), and co-created by Ray Donovan co-exec producer Sean Conway, for HBO and Sky Atlantic (who brought us The New Pope, Devils and The Third Day).

The series has an 89% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critics’ consensus saying, “by focusing on the little details and allowing its central teens to just be, Luca Guadagnino creates small-screen poetry.” The New York Times calls it “a finely detailed, living fresco of libido and intoxication, all these teenagers inhabiting their bodies as if they were just-unwrapped birthday presents,” while Variety says, “It’s so visceral as to become unsettling — but what else is being a teenager like, if not immersive, visceral and unsettling?”

But if peering so closely into these lives makes you uncomfortable, rest assured that you’re in good hands. As Rolling Stone puts it, “Few transplants from the big screen to the small have as keen an eye, or ear, as Guadagnino, so the voyeuristic nature of the storytelling feels inviting rather than indulgent.”

On screen, every choice is at once deliberate and intuitive, right down to the periodic freeze frames Luca uses like the breaths in a musical composition, where the narrative rests for a moment before moving on. The technique presented itself organically, in the editing room. “More than anything, what counts for me is to always get to things intuitively,” Guadagnino says, “because at the end of the day, the subconscious is never lying.”

The cast includes MTV Movie Award winner Jack Dylan Grazer (It, Shazam!), Grammy winner Kid Cudi (Westworld), Oscar nominee Chloë Sevigny (Big Love, American Horror Story), Black Reel award nominee Alice Braga (I Am Legend, Elysium), Francesca Scorcese (yes, she’s Martin Scorcese’s daughter, and started acting in his films The Aviator and The Departed) and breakout star Jordan Kristine Seamón.

Watch the trailer hereWatch on Showmax.

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