World News – United States – Recap of who we are: there is nothing


Let’s not mince words and waste time: this is one episode crush I knew we had to come back down from last week’s dizzying peak – that news button from elections alerted us as much – but, boy, wasn’t I ready yet for the darkest episode of We Are Who We Are And yes, I mean in both a literal and figurative sense

The HBO show has long relied on its sunny Italian setting; between playful moments on the beach and lustful hangouts by the pool, Luca Guadagnino flooded it with a sunny light that helped make this coming-of-age tale almost at times dreamy Not so in this episode – put on Thanksgiving, no less There’s a very austere tone everywhere, matching the gravity of what happens when death, arguably not an unexpected specter at a military base like this, strikes at the home Craig’s death, which we last saw a few episodes ago, leaving his young Italian wife deeply asleep, cradles the fragile grassroots social ecosystem It also leaves all of our characters unsure of how to react As a portrait of mourning, « Right Here Right Now VII » is transcendent

And, rightly so, at the center of such a story is Danny The Teenager has long been on the sidelines of the show, but now that he’s lost his best friend, we find him in the foreground – and at a key point in the episode, actually framed as such Following the tearful classroom scene and grieving confrontation (and yet another dramatic slap in the face), we see Danny strolling around the adrift base in his own thoughts Actually attached to the camera, Danny has nowhere to hide his grief as he runs to meet Craig’s young widow In the background, a song from John Adams’s 1995 opera, I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky: « Dewain’s Song of Liberation and Surprise » Like all the other tracks in We Are Who We Are, the choice works to create a mood, but the more you learn about its history, the more it adds to the current scene

Adams’ opera was written in response to the 1992 MOON Riots and the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 and follows a group of characters whose lives intersect and together tell the story of a struggling country with what appears to be an insane world Dewain is a young black man who is arrested on minor charges and sent to a prison which ends up collapsing in the earthquake (hence the title of the opera) His claims in the song (« I am the way », « I will be free », which slowly transform into « I am here », « I am free ») feel like a precise precise of We Are Who We Are even as they capture also how lost Danny feels He may be looking at the (cloudy) sky but only sees a ceiling, a world closing in on him and devastating the life he thought he knew

It’s painful to see Danny later let go of his anger at inanimate objects and, still later, at himself as he tries to drown his grief (Note how badly the pool house has deteriorated even in the show world, curdled in a dark, dreary space that has lost all of its former playful glory) Craig’s death can destabilize Danny’s mother, sister, and stepfather in decidedly different ways, but the frustration just from the often laconic teenager of knowing that he will never see his best friend again shows us how grief can both break us down and make us look at each other again

This is definitely the case with Caitlin, who finds her allegiance to Sarah and Fraser even more frayed, causing her to tear up the mental health pamphlet she so happily accepted last week and it’s also the case of Fraser, who, before embarking on a bender at his house (“Did you send my father to death?” still rings in my ears), finds out firsthand what it means to come face to face with what You thought you wanted to know, a slightly buzzed Jonathan in a pair of briefs waving at him And yes, it gets weirder from there On the border between a lustful prelude to a scorching threesome and a disorienting moment of uncomfortable self-awareness, the scene between Fraser, Jonathan and Jonathan’s girlfriend was a rare case where I was worried where we were going

Again, the decor helps set the mood The prints found in Jonathan’s apartment include a rare poster from a 1966 Francis Bacon exhibition at the Galerie Maeght with one of the artist’s works (a typically disturbing nude) and a poster for an exhibition by Gerhard Richter at the Israel Museum in the fall of 1995 featuring his lovers in the forest, a photorealistic black and white image of a young (straight) couple in the woods, the man snuggling to his other half Both images are alluring but bewildering in the same way that Tom Mercier’s supple body can be alluring, heartwarming and predatory, often at the same time – like when a shirtless Fraser Jonathan grips firmly, at first, as if he wanted to convince himself that this was all really happening, only later to give in to his arms, wanting to be held and wanted, in a tender abdication, seeking refuge only to realize one such help is not really what he wants

Fraser, always so distant, ends up collapsing like everyone around him in this dark and almost nihilistic episode (« There is nothing »), which ends, thankfully, in a rather optimistic image In the midst of all the chaos – and the rain! – Guadagnino doesn’t leave us with Caitlin and Fraser looking at each other through screens but with Danny’s calm prayer We watch him cleanse himself, spread his prayer rug and embrace his Muslim faith as a way to find the calm he needs to continue Even as Dev Hynes’ heavy score skyrockets, Danny is a ballast holding together Tears may be rolling down his cheeks, but he doesn’t stop His voice may break, but it won’t stop As the camera takes us to the top, as if to give us a view of God on this dark and stormy evening, you are carried away in his prayer, a balm in the midst of the gloom that we have just endured What that sets us up for in next week’s episode remains to be seen.But given that this show hasn’t gotten me down yet, I’m very excited to see how Guadagnino and the team at We Are Who We Are will conclude

• “Did you watch the news? Men want a leader who can make tough decisions « Chloë Sevigny has never hesitated to turn to thorny characters that you would find it hard to call likable, but her commander Sarah is something else, even if you clearly understand. ‘impression that her tough exterior is the type of armor she had to build for herself to get taken seriously in the military that said, see her passive-aggressive conversation with Jenny towards the end of the episode, silently letting him know that she had slept with his wife, reminded him that Sévigny can pack a punch with a simple phrase like « Good night, Jennifer » as few actresses can

• Like his mother, Fraser can be mean and unintentionally cruel at times See, for example, lines like « He Was a Soldier » and his factoid on rocks in coffins His apathy and indifference to what other people think have often been marked as highly enviable characteristics, but here we see how they can easily slip into much less commendable territory

• Raise your hand if you would be as (if not more) agitated as Fraser if Tom Mercier greeted you at his door with just a pair of briefs

• There were too many good words to quote in this episode, but the one that bothered me the most was “There are those who have to pay for our peace” by Sarah, who, in Sévigny’s performance, often sounded like -offered apology that has almost lost its fundamental meaning, even if it reveals the cowardly truth

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We are who we are

News from the world – United States – Recap: there is nothing


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