Synopsis: An adaptation of a graphic novel about three young misfits growing up in early ’80s Stockholm. Pixieish, mohawk-sporting Klara and her best friend Bobo are 13-year-old rebels looking for a cause. Despite having no instruments-or discernible musical talent-the two put all their energy into forming an all-girl punk band, recruiting their shy, classical guitar-playing schoolmate Hedvig as the third wheel. The film paints an ebullient and sharply observant portrait of DIY spirit and growing up different.
Release Date: June 13, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Set in Stockholm, Sweden in 1982, We Are the Best! is the story of two twelve-year-old girls, Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin), who discover punk rock rough Klara’s older brother, who happens to be an ex-punk because, by 1982, “punk is dead.” Bobo and Klara are outcasts at their school, being ridiculed by preppie girls and getting hassled by longhaired boys every day. When Bobo and Klara notice that the longhaired boys’ band has forgotten to sign up for their rehearsal room, the girls get their revenge by spitefully having them kicked out. The girls take the boys’ places at the instruments, pounding away on the drums and bass. They sound horrible, but have a ton of fun, and decide that they should start a band of their own. At a school talent show, the girls meet Hedvig, a Christian girl who plays classical guitar. Thinking that they need an actual musician in their band, they convince Hedvig to join and proceed to write songs about their gym class. The girls have finally found a scene in which they feel that they can belong, but they still have to deal with parents, bullies, and boy problems.
The best way to describe We Are the Best! is that it’s cute. That’s not meant to be condescending or patronizing; it’s just a really charming movie, considering that it’s dealing with something that’s supposedly as dangerous and threatening as punk rock. The film was directed by Lukas Moodysson (Mammoth), who adapted the screenplay from a graphic novel written by his wife, Coco, called “Never Goodnight.” The film captures the spirit of punk rock perfectly – the girls put the cart before the horse, forming their band before they can even play a note of music. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and maybe a little familiar to the musicians in the audience – one scene shows Bobo pounding on pots and pans while Klara makes up lyrics, all in the middle of Klara’s living room. It’s a portrait of a simpler time, when kids who were learning music were not afraid to suck at it, and seeing it portrayed so honestly is beautiful.
We Are the Best! is a clever twist on the coming of age tale. It’s also a clever twist on the punk rock movie. It fits in somewhere between Stand by Me and Suburbia. The girls experience all of the trials and tribulations of growing up, but the audience gets to see them teach themselves how to spike their hair with hand soap as well. There’s no real conflict, just a smattering of the type of teenage angst that is important to middle school kids but seems like no big deal to anyone else. Those who grew up in the punk rock scene will definitely see a little of themselves in Bobo, Klara, and Hedvig. Those who weren’t punks may still relate because of the fact that, under it all, they are just three normal pre-teen girls. Either way, We Are the Best! is a fun movie.
We Are the Best! is a movie about punk rock as both a social movement and a musical style, so an authentic soundtrack is of the upmost importance. Lukas Moodysson understood this as he put his movie together, and used period music from Swedish punk bands of the era like Ebba Gron, Akut Skjut, and Staalfagel. Just to mix it up, a song from the “Swedish Bob Dylan” of the early eighties, Ulf Lundell, is included. Of course, there is original music as well, with the girl’s only finished song, “Hata Sport (Hate the Sport),” featured prominently throughout the film. There is also a haunting rendition of the KSMB song “Sex Noll Tva (6:02)” that is performed by Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), as well as the timely anthem “Brezhnev & Reagan – F*ck Off!” The original songs that are played by the girls and their friends’ bands appear to be performed live in the film, with bad notes and skipped beats worn proudly as punk-rock badges. The music in We Are the Best!, both the polished and the raw, drives the film, and drives it well.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Lukas Moodysson
- Screenwriter(s): Lukas Moodysson
- Cast: Mira Barkhammar (Bobo)Mira Grosin (Klara)Liv LeMoyne (Hedvig) Kohan Lijemark (Kenneth)
- Editor(s): Michal Leszczylowski
- Cinematographer: Ulf Brantas
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA