Director: Lukas Moodysson
Many of the films that convey the essence of making music aren’t actually biopics or documentaries. Joining The Commitments, Whiplash at the top of the tree is this Swedish film from Eurofilm bad boy Lukas Moodysson. Moodysson’s most famous for two extremely depressing films – Lilya 4 Ever and A Hole In My Heart. The latter, which I have seen, is deeply unpleasant and audience-baiting. The clue to the joy that is We Are The Best! lies in his earlier film Together, in which he looks at life in a commune in seventies Sweden with sympathy and humour. Music is well used, and there are some terrific unsentimental and natural performances in Together from the children who have to bear the consequences of their parents lifestyle choices.
We Are The Best moves forward ten years to Stockholm of the early eighties. Two teenage girls, Bobo and Klara, take their boredom, their desire to wind up their parents, and political views and decide to mix all this together into forming a punk band. They’ve no idea how to play music – brilliant- and their one song is about how school sports lessons are no answer to the many crises besetting the world. They rope in fellow wierdo Christian classical guitarist Hedwig who can actually play – and the band starts to come together. Opposing them is the boys heavy metal band Iron Fist, favourites of their youth club music tutors; the views of school and parents; and even other punk bands who turn out to lightweights.
This film is a joy from start to finish. There’s no big plot, other than growing up. It charts a teenage world of school, bus trips to see people at the weekend, nights in when the parents are out, and youth club trips. Moodysson again gets terrific performances from all three child actors – Bobo nails the Crass/Gang of Four earnest political approach to punk, while Klara is all anarchic energy and sticking it to the man. Hedwig captures the awkwardness of the teenager torn between loyalty to their parents beliefs and a desire to be much cooler than these beliefs allow. Many of the scenes – from drunkenly throwing up over someone’s record collection, and the unfortunate DIY, haircut, to the efforts of the youth workers to be down with the kids – are so effortlessly and lightly realised – that it documents the feelings of being teenage superbly.
Yes it’s got subtitles and yes it’s a director with a somewhat forbidding reputation, but you won’t spend a more joyous and truthful 90 minutes with a film. Bobo, Klare and Hedwig 4 Ever!
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
The aforementioned films about music, keepers of the true punk flame, fans of Stockholm housing.