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We Are the Best!

Posted by martinteller on November 30, 2015

Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) don’t fit in with the other 7th graders. Their rebellious attitude and love of punk music makes them outcasts… and they don’t care. They pretend to have a band just to wrest control of the youth center rehearsal room from an annoying rock group. But their prankish whim turns into a hobby. And when they recruit Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), a reserved Christian, to play guitar, it becomes something more.

I promised myself I wasn’t going to draw a bunch of comparisons to Linda Linda Linda. That’s one of my top 5 movies, it just wouldn’t be fair. Both films are about school-aged girls in an amateur band, and both also use that framework to facilitate an exploration of youth and youth culture in general. But there’s no need to go pointing out parallels or contrasts. Let’s discuss Lukas Moodysson’s movie on its own terms.

The film employs Moodysson’s usual handheld technique to its usual effectiveness. There is a realism and honesty here that grounds the generally light-hearted proceedings. The drama is never overblown, and for the most part these feel like genuine kids dealing with genuine problems. The lengthy subplot about Bobo and Klara competing for a boy’s attention felt a little contrived (and familiar) and it was by far my least favorite section of the film… but I can’t say any of the interactions came off as particularly phony.

The actual business of being in a band takes a backseat to the story of three girls trying to carve out identities for themselves. Punk music is the perfect milieu for them, it embodies an outlook that rejects everything you’ve been told by adults. Punk can be childish and adolescent, but what is more fitting for children on the verge of adolescence? The attitude can make them unlikable — Klara especially — but I appreciate that Moodysson isn’t afraid to let kids make the mistakes that kids frequently make. Klara’s snotty confrontation of Hedvig’s religious beliefs makes you cringe a little bit, but you have to accept that youths are going to try on different personas and attitudes, and that punk youths especially are going to be kinda shitty about it.

The soundtrack is entirely Swedish punk music. I was afraid it might be a parade of the usual suspects — Sex Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks, Dead Kennedys. Instead it was all bands completely unfamiliar to me, but I assume would be known to any Swedish punk fans circa 1982. It wasn’t especially good punk, but it was refreshing nonetheless. I also liked the reference to the documentary A Respectable Life.

In all, it was a pleasant film about three interesting kids who are determined to live on their own terms. I would have liked less of the love triangle, and a little more about Hedvig, but overall it’s pretty enjoyable. And in its own punky way, sweet. Rating: Good (75)


4 Responses to “We Are the Best!”

  1. Great write-up. I really enjoyed this, but I agree, too much of the silly love triangle!

  2. indiefan20 said

    This was my first Lukas Moodysson film, and I liked it a lot. The kids were very natural, the characters were likable, and I love how they do so badly at the big show and get booed off the stage but couldn’t give less of a shit. I agree that Klara was a brat about Hedvig’s religion, but it did lead to some interesting discussions. Great review!

    • Thank you very much! I agree on all points. I like that Moodysson is willing to let Klara be a brat about it, it allows for a much more nuanced approach to (and reaction to) the conflict.

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