Director: Lukas Moodysson
MPAA Rating: NR
Outcasts. Misfits. Weirdos. Troublemakers. These are labels that could easily be attached to any number of teenage social groups. What’s a young person suppose to do when they are looked down upon by others? Well crying about it isn’t the answer. Accepting who you are and standing up for yourself and your friends by forming a punk band is the obvious answer. What? In Stockholm of the early eighties that is exactly what two young girls do. Tired of being told to confirm and be like any other teenage girl at school two friends decide to start a band to protest the state of music and society as they see it. Lukas Moodysson’s latest film We Are the Best! follows three girls as they try to establish their identities through their music and their friendship.
While at the local recreation center, Klara and Bobo grow weary of listening to the noise emanating from the practice room. Much to the annoyance of the heavy metal band using the room they take it over and start their own punk band from scratch, neither of them know how to play an instrument. Feeling they need someone in the group who can actually play they enlist the aid of a nice Christian girl, Hedvig, to give the group some kick. While writing songs and practicing, the girls get into the usual things that “normal” girls do like boys, parties, alcohol and of course dealing with the parents.
Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin and Liv LeMoyne star as Bobo, Klara and Hedvig, respectively. Bobo is the smart one, Klara is the rebellious one and Hedvig is the nice one. Together they form an engaging trio of young girls in search of identity. This film firmly rests upon their capable shoulders and together they make this film a fun and enjoyable coming-of-age treat. Their chemistry and comic timing certainly make for some humorous and heartfelt moments. They carve out their own individual identities and you can recognize their strength and growth as the film progresses. Their performances are very natural and appear to be improvised on many occasions. For all three this is their first feature film and they perform like veteran child actors.
Moodysson has pulled solid performances from his young leading ladies. He also gets good performances from the supporting cast filling the roles of the parents, band members, teachers and the objects of the young girls’ affections. Moodysson not only directs but also wrote the screenplay as well. His film embraces what makes all of us different and how that should be celebrated. He has written strong characters who accept who they are and will thumb their noses at anyone who simply doesn’t get them. The girls forming a punk band, which in the early eighties was considered dead, is not just an attempt to break conformity but to stir a teenage rebellion against stereotypes. We aren’t weird, we aren’t losers, we are just like everyone else we just walk to the beat of a different drummer and as they proclaim “We are the best!”
We Are the Best! is an entertaining crowd pleaser. It is often hilarious and heartwarming and features truly strong teenage characters that are very refreshing. Like The Spectacular Now and Short Term 12 where teenagers are dealing with real world problems and not the typical things Hollywood teen comedies are hung up on, We Are the Best! presents teenagers who know who they are, embrace who they are and really don’t care what anyone thinks if they don’t like them. Thankfully in this film the most important role models, their parents, are fully supportive of them and all their differences. After seeing it you will too.