Lukas Moodysson has long been one of my favourite directors. After ground-breaking films such as Show Me Love, about two young girls falling in love with each other, and Lilya 4-ever, about trafficking, Moodysson has again put the focus on girls. We Are the Best! is based on the graphic novel Never Goodnight by the director’s wife, Coco Moodysson, and it’s an absolutely wonderful film.
It is set in Stockholm in the 1980s, where best friends Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) decide to start a punk band. Eventually they realise they might need at least one member who can actually play an instrument. Enter religious and bullied but talented guitarist Hedwig (Liv Lemoyne).
Together the three girls go on to do all the things that young teenage girls do: rebel against their parents, get infatuated and drink too much. However, most importantly, they stay best friends to the soundtrack of ’80s Swedish punk.
Everything about We Are the Best! looks and feels real. It is funny, heart-warming and vibrant. The young actors, all of whom are newcomers, are excellent and Moodysson is a master at catching the off-guard moments of genuine feeling.
Their relationships with their parents (Bobo’s laisse-fair mother and Hedwig’s over-protective mum) are spot-on. Relationships with other children at the school and the youth centre are also well developed, culminating in a fiasco performance where the band plays its only song (“Hate Sport! Hate Sport!”) at a competition in a regional town, uniting with older hard rockers in their hatred of the town.
It might sound glum, but it really isn’t. If you can remember being a young teenager, I have no doubt that you will identify with the characters in We Are the Best! As a Swede who grew up listening to Swedish punk, I was overwhelmed with how perfect the vulnerable feeling of that time and place has been rendered – and how universal Moodysson has made it.
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