We Are the Best!
Starring: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne
Review written by Robert D. Patrick
It’s partly fiction, of course, but Klara and Bobo, best friends and protagonists of Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!, would absolutely loathe the notion that their story would open against the riotous frenzy that is the World Cup. After all, the teenage girls’ sneers and shouts derive from the fact that they abhor competitive team activities (their only song is appropriately titled “Hate the Sport”). In 1982, the punk movement is considered dead, the sweat lacquered guitars and incendiary roars are a thing of the past. And while coarse throats no longer rumble and teeth no longer gnash, two girls in Sweden, named Klara (Mira Grosin) and Bobo (Mira Barkhammar), rebel against the notion that their favorite music is a wreathe away from being forgotten.
Klara has more than just a scintilla of belief that punk is still a relevant form of expression. The drum-eviscerating carnage and machine gun delivery is even part of her aesthetic compass – she wears a mohawk and strafes conversations with barbed observations. Klara’s best friend, Bobo, shares her volatile and incensed enthusiasm for unabashed punk culture. Because of the duo’s counterculture attitude, they face volleys of insults from their classmates. The only defense? To vehemently jut their fingers across a guitar and splinter some drum sticks. The only issue is that the girls have no idea how to play an instrument. To quell that storm, Klara and Bobo bring in an unassuming, devoutly religious, but musically adept new friend named Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne) into the fold. The three girls molt apprehensions and begin to make clunky, chord jarring crescendos of sonic mayhem. Of course, boyfriends enter the fold; brothers wag their fingers; and parents chide. It’s the usual cocktail for a teenager, in spite of their atypical interest.
Moodysson’s opus, adapted from his wife’s graphic novel Never Goodnight, is a love letter in the form of a calloused guitar riff. The Swedish born director is known for his phantasmagoria of cankerous visuals and bullhorn sounds, but here, in his most innocuous work to date, the smarmy experimentation is pushed aside in favor of a standard coming of age story. We Are the Best! is basically Moodysson’s The Straight Story. Think My Life as a Dog but with a molar grinding punk soundtrack. While Barkhammar, Grosin and LeMoyne have naturalistic chemistry, Moodysson’s charismatic, sometimes blase feature, suffers from egregiously obvious pacing issues. Still, the sometimes vanilla specked portrait of these three friends exploring the waters of adolescence is a fun, perhaps even necessary, addition to Moodysson’s typically fang baring catalog of films. Here’s to levity in the form of a buzz saw.