By the time the credits rolled on WE ARE THE BEST!, I had a big smile on my face. Not since my last viewing of STAND BY ME, has a film just resonated with me so much, I could almost feel myself in the characters of the film. The message and the heart of the film, the young teenage girls, just rang so true, Lukas Moodysson has once again captured youth. As with FUCKING ÅMÅL (aka SHOW ME LOVE), Moodysson takes a peak into the life of young girls, not sugar coating life, and showing things for how they are. Nothing feels fake, the characters are very real, and both films are just so insanely enjoyable.
WE ARE THE BEST! takes place in 1982, in Sweden and it begins by introducing us to Bobo (Mira Barkhammer) and Klara (Mira Grosin), two girls around 12 and 13. They are outcasts at school, they have short punk style hair, and listen to punk music, even though everyone says punk is dead. One day while at the youth center they decide to form a punk band, even though they don’t play any instruments or know how to sing. Along the way they invite Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), a guitarist at their school, who is also an outcast because she is Christian. The trio form a band, and actually form a band, as they embrace their inner punk.
Basically if you replace the year with 1992 and the music with Grunge, that would be me. I dressed and modeled my look around Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, I listened to Pearl Jam and Nirvana non stop. I basically had no other friends at the time who understood this, except my cousin, who may have been an influence. In this respect, I related to highly to this film, and its portrayal of these girls felt very real. Their love of the music was how I felt, being at that age and feeling unwanted by boys because of how I looked, that is right in this film too. Moodysson has a rare talent for being able to capture the truths of being a youth. Hollywood take note, this is how kids really are, they aren’t caricatures.
The story here, with the girls wanting to form a band, really is what moves things forward, as they progress, they get to perform somewhere. This is what they work for, all the while they go through ups and downs as friends, going through the very things that real friends do. They argue and jealous over boys, they do the at home make over, that angers the parent, they lie in order to keep hanging out. This is what we all have done, we all know what it is like, and watching this unfold is like reliving a memory. Where were these beautiful souls when I was growing up? They really represent a strong feminist movement, girls who are who they are and aren’t afraid of it. Punk is not dead to them, and they don’t care who knows it.
Of course acting wise, this film nails it perfectly. Again a testament to Moodysson, who again just manages to find wonderful young people, who work so brilliantly with his material. Bobo is the character I felt closest to, she reminded me a lot of well me. Mira Barkhammer just embodied this character so well, from the short hair, the need for boys to pay attention to her, the love for her friends, her passion for music. It was all there, a complex performance that was absolutely flawless. Mira Grosin plays Klara the loud and crazy one of the group, she says things without thinking. She ropes her friends into doing things, and the consequences aren’t thought about. Klara sports a nice cool mohawk that really is her trademark, it represents her so well. Then we have Hedvig the quiet one, who manages to come out of her shell, a great and very passionate performance from Liv LeMoyne. The film is about these three, everything else just revolves around them.
If any film deserves an exclamation mark in it’s title, it is this one. It is a fond reminder of what it is to be young and passionate, to live for the music and your friends. WE ARE THE BEST! really is the best, films like this don’t come along often, and Moodysson has managed two of them. This would certainly play very well back to back with FUCKING ÅMÅL, truly two greats of modern European cinema. Be sure to see this on the big screen with an audience, and you’ll be singing along with the trio.