Three Swedish teenagers in the 80s decide to form a punk band, despite a lack of musical ability.
Lukas Moodysson, 2013 (I spelled that right the first time I tried!)
Best friends and outcasts at their school, the mohawked Klara (Mira Grosin) and bespectacled Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) are obsessed with punk music. Tired of being bullied and having to listen to music they hate at their local youth group, one night the girls sign up to use the band room to spite some older boys. After a night of randomly thrashing at the available instruments, they decide to form a band themselves. After a school concert, they enlist the help of classmate ad classical guitarist Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), a conservative Christian girl who is also teased. Hedvig teaches the other girls how to play their instruments to improve their one song, “Hate the Sport”. The three girls form a strong bond that survives through fights, meeting punk boys, and going on their very first tour.
This is a gorgeous coming of age movie (about girls!) that focuses on how it feels to be an outcast (and a girl!), the importance of friendship (between girls!), and the power of music (made by girls!!) to overcome barriers between people. Adapted by Moodysson from his wife’s graphic novel, the story follows three rebellious teenage girls. Each of the girls is a fully fleshed out character: Bobo is lonely and lacking in self-confidence, but kind and warm-hearted; Klara is a vibrant, feisty girl who tends to dominate her friends and has a short temper; Hedvig is shy and sweet. While Hedvig doesn’t have quite as many lines as the other two, she becomes the anchor that keeps the whole thing together. The performances are naturalistic in the good way, particularly the two Miras, who had terrific chemistry and played off each other perfectly. The movie shot in muted tones, the handheld camera work effective in making you feel like you’re involved in these kids’ lives; each act of rebellion or moment of honesty that brings the girls together feels earned and honest.
Told primarily from Bobo’s point of view but never losing sight of the other girls’ perspectives, the story is a lot of fun. While Klara’s family is supportive, Bobo’s flighty mother is more absent than helpful, and the girls are left essentially alone to navigate their way to becoming a real band. They practice and perform at the youth centre, overcoming setbacks using their own ingenuity. The film explores gender presentation and subtle sexism in really interesting ways; while the focus is on the girls’ relationships with each other, the discrimination they face for the way they dress and their behaviour is undeniable, and that goes for both the very feminine Hedvig and the more masculine Bobo and Klara. There are times when the characters’ emotions seem to bleed off the screen, and the film is filled with honesty and compassion. The film moves along effectively and never gets boring. “We Are the Best!” is currently available on Netflix, so I strongly recommend you check it out.
We Are the Best! on IMDb