So tonight I was hoping to post another one of those essays I like to do (it’s a big one, about a recent issue concerning films, video games, and all art in general), but as it’s taking a little more work than expected I thought it best to put that on hold for a day or two. In the meantime I wanted to give you another review, of a wonderful film I discovered around this time last year. It’s a 2013 Swedish film, directed by Lukas Moodysson, called We Are the Best! For me it really was one of the best of its year. This review I originally wrote for Portsmouth Film Society, and it was bound to end up here at some point. I like celebrating good movies after all, as you may have already guessed.
Occasionally a movie comes along that prompts you to feel pity for those who rarely watch foreign films because it means having to read subtitles (they don’t seem to take my suggestion of ‘learn the language then’ very seriously). Lukas Moodysson’s latest film, the aptly named We Are the Best, is a fine example of such a movie.
Portraying the lives of three young girls as they are beginning their tumultuous teenage years, We Are the Best first introduces us to Bobo and Klara, a pair of unconventional characters who don’t fit the look or style of their peers in school. In a rebellious mood and fed up with being mocked, they decide to tackle their frustrations head on and start a punk band. However, realising they know next to nothing about actually playing musical instruments, they soon enlist the help of a third girl, the more conservative Hedvig, who plays guitar.
Unknown actors Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin and Liv LeMoyne play Bobo, Klara and Hedvig respectively. What they may lack in experience in front of the camera, they more than make up for in their endearing characterisation of girls who display as much attitude and cynicism towards society as Fight Club’s Tyler Durden – yet in a more spunky and refreshingly innocent way.
Such a comparison to Durden’s character is especially fitting, considering the anti-establishment message and ironic tone of the girls’ signature song (“The atomic bombs blow up our cities, yet you want more tennis committees!”) Make no mistake about this film – underneath its light-hearted exterior, there are meaningful and poignant themes hinted at. These themes may be characteristic of Moodysson as a director, but here they are communicated in a most uncharacteristic style for him.
While being a film of incredible insight, there is also a clear sense of guiltless fun running through its veins. We watch the girls’ development, from their first fight over a boy to an unfortunate carpet stain following a cheeky drinking session, undoubtedly reminiscent of our own experiences. Yet We Are the Best is a film that will be most appreciated by those whose experience was not just of these things, but also of being the outcast, as these three main characters most definitely are.
In the end they do manage to give the anarchic impression of knowing better than everyone else. You’ll get the feeling, as with many great films, that a second viewing is needed to catch what you may have missed first time round – or at the very least, to spend more time with Sweden’s newest (and coolest) little punk band of rebels.
10 / 10