Starring: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne
Genre: Drama/ Comedy/ World Cinema
In 1982 Stockholm, best friends Bobo (Barkhammer) and Klara (Grosin) as a means of dealing with feeling like outsiders in their conservative society, decide to form a punk band, despite the fact they are girls and are constantly told that punk is dead. Not knowing how to really play, they ask a shy Christian classmate Hedvig (LeMoyne) to teach them, and though it doesn’t seem to help at all, the three of them still prepare for their debut gig with the same level of rebellion against society and its norms, and learn a few things about growing up along the way.
Swedish auteur Lukas Moodysson has proved with films that are equally harrowing and messed up that he is a unique and talented filmmaker. We are the Best! feels almost like someone coming home as it is a film that seems to have the warmer, more carefree and affectionate tone of his first two features Show me Love and Together (both excellent by the way), and a welcome homecoming it is too! Once again showing his incredible talent as a filmmaker that can make any situation and characters instantly believable and likeable, with a true understanding for their mindset and the society they live in, We are the Best! is a truly engaging and uplifting film from start to finish.
Moodysson has demonstrated before an incredible ability to get great performances from a young cast, and the three leads here are no exception. They give a tremendous raw energy and enthusiasm to their roles which makes their characters instantly infectious and likeable. Their passion for simply following what they believe in and doing what they want to do and enjoy doing, despite being not particularly good at playing musical instruments or writing lyrics, is genuinely inspiring to watch. Moodysson skilfully avoids all the schmaltzy clichés that a mainstream film would use and We Are the Best! emerges all the better, more memorable and more personal for it. The film ends with the girls playing their first gig, and I of course do not want to give anything away, but it is an ending that is appropriately uplifting, culturally specific and consistent with the tone of the film. Likewise there are plenty of laughs to be had, the girl’s naivety to real life providing as much laughter as tears, as is the case with real life.
This being a Lukas Moodysson film, there is of course plenty of substance to go with the story and the stories of the three girls and their unique family backgrounds is dealt with very well, adding the necessary substance. Of course this being a coming-of-age story they may try to oppose all mainstream ideals, but they at times unwittingly are part of them, particularly when it comes to fancying the same boy, but this only enhances our emotional engagement. We Are The Best is a celebration of rebellion and self belief, but yet in a way that feels authentic and never over done.
Lukas Moodysson’s return to more light hearted films is a welcome one with a coming of age tale that is both uplifting but yet its grounding in reality manages to intentionally avoid it being over schmaltzy. We Are the Best! sets a standard for uplifting comedies that I truly wish the mainstream would take note of and follow.