After a few years of making films about miserable subjects like human trafficking and the porn industry, as well some experimental endeavours, (and also writing a couple of novels) Swedish director Lukas Moodysson has returned to the sweetness and optimism of his first two films, Fucking Amal and Together, with his new movie, We Are the Best!
The film is based on a series of graphic novels written by Moodysson’s wife, Coco Moodysson, which are based on her own childhood as a young punk rocker. Moodysson was also a punk rocker as a kid so this is familiar territory for him as well.
In it three thirteen year old girls decide to form a punk rock band, mostly out of frustration and boredom, even though only one of them can actually play an instrument (not that it matters much in a punk band). In between there’s love, annoying parents, stupid teachers and everything else life has to offer.
We Are the Best! is not so much a movie about punk rock as it is a description of teenage angst and frankly, few films have portrayed teenage angst as believably as this film. Everything here rings true. Moodysson, with the help of his three leads; Mira Barkhammar, Liv LeMoyne and Mira Grosin, perfectly capture the feeling of being a thirteen year old teenager, of being not quite a kid anymore but still far from an adult. All the awkwardness, drama and hormones that follow are here in spades.
A perfect example of this is a sequence in which the three girls go begging for money in a train station so they can buy an electric guitar. Of course they just manage to scrape together a few coins but instead of saving the money they immediately spend it on candy and ice cream and what follows is a scene in which they mix together the candy, ice cream and chips in a bucket and eat it all together! This is probably something Coco herself did with her friends.
But Moodysson also manages to nail a certain punk rock aesthetic. This movie represents everything punk rock is about: Fighting the system, expressing yourself and not bowing down to society’s norms (like that girls should have long hair and use make-up). Also, the punk rock song the girls write is just perfect and will have you humming it for days afterwards (it’s called “Hate Sports”).
We Are the Best is an incredibly warm, funny, tender and simply beautiful film. It may not be very deep but it doesn’t have to be, and the filmmaking has a certain rawness to it, quite fitting to the subject. This isn’t a flashy film and is completely devoid of any pretension. It might be argued that it’s a little slight and familiar but in a way it’s just about perfect.
Final Verdict: We Are the Best! is Lukas Moodysson’s best film in years and a wonderful return to the optimism and sweetness of his first two films. It absolutely nails what it’s like to be an awkward thirteen year old teenager, just beginning to reach the gap between being a kid and a responsible adult, as well as being totally punk rock!