The Daily Stream: Luca Guadagnino Wants You To Ugly Cry While Watching 'We Are Who We Are' (And You Should)

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)The Series: We Are Who We Are (stylized WRWWR)Where You Can Stream It: HBO MaxThe Pitch: A stunning sun-soaked coming-of-age drama about two queer American teens living on a U.S. military base in Italy. Their friendship, love, and identity struggles carry the show through amazing euphoric highs and grief-stricken lows. It's an intense emotional journey, but by no means fast-paced — just sit back and indulge in the beauty of Italy and young love.Why It's Essential Viewing: Don't you want to feel something? Remember the iconic, heartbreaking dad monologue at the end of Call Me By Your Name? Sure you do — it's the one where Michael Stuhlbarg stares down the audience and Timothée Chalamet, telling us to welcome pain because it lets us feel joy. Not only was he right, but director Luca Guadignino embraced his own point by following the film up with We Are Who We Are, which almost feels like a companion piece to the 2017 Oscar-nominated film.

The series follows introverted 14-year old Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer) whose mothers (played by Chloe Sevingy and Alice Braga) move him to a new military base in Italy. He quickly befriends fellow army brat Caitlin (newcomer Jordan Kristine Seamón), forming the kind of magical friendship that instantly imprints on their lives. Their relationship is so potent that it ripples across the base: upsetting Caitlin's initial friend group and encouraging the two to experiment with their identities, alienating them from family members.

The series is essential for its performances alone. You might remember Grazer as the boy that keeps showing up, having starred in It, the DCEU's Shazam, and most recently as the scene-stealing Alberto in Luca. As Fraser, he is prickly and frustrating, but with a childish naiveté. Seamón more than holds her own with both Grazer and her on-screen father, played by Scott Mescudi (better known as Kid Cudi).

All 8 episodes are graciously directed by Guadagnino himself, who continues his streak as a generous director. He paints such a luscious portrait of Italy that you're instantly transported out of your quarantine residence. A welcome addition is an impeccable soundtrack, often chosen by the characters themselves and featuring everything from Young M.A. to David Bowie.

Like Call Me By Your Name, the series lingers on the beauty of its host country, finding the emotional resonance in details as small as ocean waves and light breezes. Every episode is titled RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW because ultimately, nothing matters but the present moment. On some level that concept is a blatant lie — every terrible decision made by our reckless group of teenagers feels earth-shattering and will certainly bring out the concerned parent in you. But that's the beauty of the WRWWR: Guadignino lets his teens be young, impulsive, and utterly stupid. And as much anxiety as their every action sends coursing through your veins, their freedom also lifts an unspoken weight.

Fraser has moments of utter narcissism, Harper's decision-making skills leave much to be desired and the whole crew of teens can be needlessly selfish, but something about that is deeply satisfying. If I wasn't bursting with joy for them, I'd be seething with jealousy.

Honestly, I probably have plenty of envy as-is: I didn't have anything like We Are Who We Are growing up. Even if I would've been too young to understand its significance, there weren't a ton of queer coming-of-age shows to choose from (certainly not many that embraced fluidity and the beauty of not knowing). Writers Guadignino, Paolo Giordano, and Francesca Manieri don't project much about these characters and in fact, emphasize their uneasiness and unsureness about their identities. In the space of this show, not being able to perfectly define yourself is more than fine, it's celebrated.