Written by Jonathan Mahon-Heap
Guadagnino deals in the tension of longing; that gossamer thread of desire where all the promise of young love lies.
Tinkling synths, shimmering adolescent bodies, a Mediterranean seaside under the spectre of neglect — We Are Who We Are is unmistakably a Luca Guadagnino joint. Starring Chloë Sevigny, Jack Dylan Grazer, Kid Cudi, and Francesca Scorsese, his first foray into television debuts 14 September on HBO, with music by Dev Hynes. The eight-part series explores “friendship, first-love, identity, and immerses the audience in all the messy exhilaration and anguish of being a teenager”, amid summer on a U.S. military base in Italy.
“This is about the bodies and souls of now”, said Luca Guadagnino of the show he has written, produced, and directed. The rhythm of its title isn’t the only element to echo his Call Me By Your Name — once again, youth is ripe, the sea nearby, and the tyranny of the last chance hovers over an otherwise idyll summer. Tilda Swinton, star of Guadagnino’s I Am Love, A Bigger Splash, and Suspiria, described the director as a ‘sense-ationalist’, and the trailer released today shows stolen moments, furtive glances at bodies glistening with water, cycling through forgotten lots of the city.
“Luca Guadagnino’s masterful fresco on youth evokes deeply contemporary human questions with delightful freedom and narrative precision, and with a constantly inspired, powerfully sensorial and eminently cinematographic approach”, waxed Cannes Film Festival Director Thierry Frémaux, who had selected the show for the Director’s Fortnight strand of 2020’s axed festival.
It’s a style both literal and lyrical, bumping us up from being just voyeurs to reliving the experience for ourselves. Nature, time, love, bodies, all suffuse together in the films of Guadagnino, showing the ways the world around us starts to look a little different, under the anesthetic of young love.
For a storyteller fond of dreamers, Luca Guadagnino does not appear to sleep. Since his Oscar nomination for Call Me By Your Name, he has spent as much time fending off new projects (Scarface, Lord of the Flies, and a Call Me By Your Name sequel among them), as tilting his lens back to fashion films (he’s made shorts for Valentino, Cartier, Zegna, Armani, and Ferragamo). Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone once said “I was offered a free villa in Hollywood, but I said no thank you — I prefer to live in Italy.” The same holds true for Guadagnino; offer him Hollywood, awards, and the world — his camera will swerve back to the waves lapping the Mediterranean seaside.