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We Are The Best! Is An Irresistible Feminist Punk-Rock Comedy (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | December 23, 2014 | Add Comments

Three girls form a punk-rock band in the irresistible We Are The Best!It’s become a cliche to say a music film “isn’t really about music”, but that description certainly applies to We Are The Best!, Lukas Moodysson’s big-hearted 80’s-Stockholm comedy of punk-rock girl power. The film has a message: Who cares if you can’t play a single guitar chord? When you’re 13, and you’re with your best friends, and you’re punks, and you think you are the best, well, that’s all that matters.

The protagonists of We Are The Best! are clearly not the best, however. Shy, self-concious Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and confident, charismatic Klara (Mira Grosin) have never picked up an instrument in their lives. After a series of coincidences, they wind up with a weekly practice space and a drum set and bass guitar to borrow. They bang and strum noisily, and begin writing a surprisingly political punk anthem “Hate the Sport” about their disgust with sports lovers who ignore current events. At a school talent show, they’re floored by the talents of Hedvig, a girl guitarist who’s booed mercilessly. They invite her, a fellow loner, to join their band, and she attempts to teach them how to play. The girls fall in love with other boy punks, fight, cut each others hair, and practice for a Christmas concert where they’ll perform their song.

Moodysson’s script, adapted from a nonfiction graphic novel by his wife, is both conventional in it’s setup and surprising in it’s specifics. The story of children working together and having fun is familiar, but we’ve never seen a movie about punk-rock girls from Stockholm rebelling against their parents and gym teachers and school bullies. Moodysson, directing his eighth Swedish feature, has an ear for the awkwardness, humor, and friendship of young-teen conversations, as well as a love for punk-rock (the film has a Swedish soundtrack of pummeling drums and electrifying guitars). He’s done a rare thing: he’s made a feel-good movie that never feels fake.

Punk-rock, friendship, and teenagers in We Are The Best!Much of that credit goes to the three child stars: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, and Liv LeMoyne. They all exude energy and flesh out their characters individually. Barkhammar is quiet and timid, self-assured Grosin is possessed with winning confidence, and LeMoyne is the lonely guitarist who learns to love punk and helps the others learn how to play it.

During it’s tight 102 minutes, We Are The Best! sometimes falters. It occasionally runs out of things to do, and overdoes it’s adorable-ness in one scene. But you’ll forget all that when you watch the winning final scene, during which the three girls perform their song in front of an audience of haters. The boos drown out the music, but they scream “We are the best!” and keep playing. That’s punk.

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