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We Are The Best! – Review

April 17, 2014

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


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This sweet lively ode to the rebellious nature of youth is a definitive punk film. Based on the adaptation of the graphic novel by director Lukas Moodysson’s wife, We Are The Best! explores not the chaotic years of 15 and 16-year-olds, but takes us instead to preteen lives and puts them in a punk band. The film revolves around three outcast girls in 1980s Stockholm who decide to form a punk band, without knowing any instruments – what’s more punk than that?

Bobo and Klara are best friends in the 7th grade: Bobo is a bespectacled, insecure, angsty 12-year-old who has to take care of her absent-minded mother and Klara is her feisty assertive mohawk-streaked companion. Bobo watches out for her serial dating mother who is often without a clue about where her daughter may be, while Klara’s parents are just too happy to be cool. But these two have each other. After simply trying to prove a point and get back at a group of older teenage boys in a hard rock band, Bobo and Klara are confronted with the fact that they’ve told people they’re in a punk band.

Reasonably so, they decide they should probably form one and recruit the fellow loner, shy expert guitarist, Swedish-blonde Hedvig whose strict Christian parents put her at odds with her classmates. Over the course of the film, these three face defiant haircuts, angry parents, and fights over boys, culminating in a rousing finale. It’s not just their band that is punk, it’s their lives, and this film perfectly captures the careless affrontive attitude that gets lost and faded with age.

When the three girls meet two fellow punk rocker boys their age, the math doesn’t add up from the start, and someone is going to get hurt. The film runs into a bit of stickiness when faced with how to deal with boys at the age of 12, and comes across a bit forced and awkward. However, the effortless performance from the three girls, and the natural feel of the script grab you nonetheless. The performances seem so easy you wouldn’t be surprised if these three are friends outside the film.

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Whatever age you’re at, you’ll be able to relate to the struggles of this group of friends. There are some true gems in here, like a scene where the girls try their best to beg for money to get a guitar but spend all their earnings on chocolate and crisps, or when the band come up with their first song, “Hate The Sport” through chaotic yells and mistimed drum beats. Or when Bobo and Klara decide to initiate Hedvig by setting a dangerous date between her well-kept hair and a pair of scissors, to the horror of Hedvig’s mother.

The film starts and stops with their preteen lives – you can see where they may drift apart in the future, where the teenage years may take their toll, but for the time being, this gang of girls are happy and they have each other. By making a film about nearly-teenagers fighting against sports, disco, parents, boys, classmates, acting in the face of disapproval and norms, Moodysson’s seems to have filmed what it means to be punk, in music and life and does it with preteens.

We Are The Best! is out in UK cinemas on April 18

Oliver Smith