MIFF Review: We Are The Best!

Blogged by: Review by Filmme Fatales contributor Serene Reilly. 05 Aug 2014 View comments
Anyone who has ever rocked out in their bedroom with a measly assortment of stolen pots and pans will experience acute nostalgia shock while watching ‘We are the Best!’. Regardless of whether or not you have ever tried to recreate punk rock anthems with a tennis racquet and some spoons, the joy and warmth of this crowd-pleasing film is sure to amuse and brighten an otherwise dull winter’s day in Melbourne.

‘We are the Best’ is based on Coco Moodysson’s graphic novel, an autobiographical tale of coming-of-age and punk rock in Sweden during the early 1980s. Her husband, film director Lukas Moodysson, has taken the crude and colourless drawings from the comic and transformed them into a vibrant screen adaptation that brims with character and joy.
Adult voices chatter passionately about money and politics over a black screen. Thirteen year old, Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) sits amongst the adults at her mother’s birthday party and wears the disaffected face of early teenage boredom and disgust. It is 1982 in Stockholm. Spandex and Human League are all the rage in youth culture but there are at least three teens who want nothing to do with pop music and stretchy pants. They will fight for the punk that everyone proclaims is dead. This opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the film which is marked with a natural humour that comes with growing up.
Bobo’s school friend, Klara (Mira Grosin), is a fast-talking, wide-eyed, Mohawked kid with a punk attitude that her siblings and parents humour and accept. After getting into a prolonged fight about the importance of following a roster (to prevent ultimate chaos) at their local youth centre, Bobo and Klara get the opportunity to play some music. The problem is they only have a bass guitar and a drum set. Oh, and they don’t know how to play. 

What Bobo and Klara lack in technical skill they make up with enthusiasm and a punk temperament.  They thrash their instruments while shouting out the lyrics to songs they have written about hating sport and being the prettiest girls in town (despite the naysayers). The girls recruit a third band member, another outcast who plays classical guitar at a school talent contest. She is a devout Christian, but no worries – influencing her away from God would be totally punk rock! Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne) turns out to be a loyal companion who wows the girls with her knowledge of chords and playing in tune. Together they make a likeable trio with matching home-job haircuts and teenage maturity.
Moodysson has created a sweet and joyful film that glorifies the adolescent trials and errors of friendship and growing up. Through a series of endearing vignettes, teenage-hood is relived through the trio’s antics; prank calls and sob stories to strangers, meeting up with boys and then fighting over them, getting drunk for the first time, making up, rocking out and wanting to fit in. The three lead performances compliment the hand-held camera and lack of a score in providing realism, raw emotion and a constant stream of laughs. Like Moodysson’s previous films dealing with teenage girls, the maturity in his character’s shines through. The kids in ‘We are the Best!’ are void of outside drama and trauma (drama that is unavoidable for the teens in Moodysson’s previous works). The lack of external drama is a welcome luxury in a film where the mood never drops below amusement.
‘We are the Best!’ is an endearing, light and joyful film that really encapsulates the awkward humour of adolescence. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that keep this otherwise drama-less film entertaining and enjoyable to watch.


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