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18 April 2014

Film Review - We Are The Best (2013)

Drama, World Cinema
Metrodome Distribution
Release Date:
18th April 2014(UK)
Rating: 15
Lukas Moodysson
Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne,

If the words ‘adapted from a graphic novel’ aren’t usually ones to get you running to your nearest cinema, then perhaps We Are The Best is just the film to change that.

Lukas Moodysson’s tale of pre-teen punks, rebellion and friendship takes us to early 80’s Stockholm, 1982 to be precise, and to close friends Bobo and Klara.

Something of an autobiographical tale for author of the source text (and wife of director Moodysson) Coco Moodysson, We Are The Best brings the Swedish graphic novel “Never Goodnight” to the screen - the tale of the last punks standing in their disco-inclined school where they’re often reminded that their beloved punk is dead. Mohawks and scruffy clothes are out, big curls and disco are very much in. Not that the girls mind much. In true punk style they revel in their individuality, chopping each other’s hair and styling it with soap, running when others are walking and throwing on oversized sweaters when their peers are applying the latest make-up trends.

Eternally swimming against the tide, the girls decide there’s nothing else to do but form a band themselves. It will be an outlet for their angst, taking a stand against such injustices as PE while having a swing at politico messages against THE MAN. There’s nothing stopping them. Other, of course, than their complete lack of musical knowledge or prowess. This wasn’t something to hold back the likes of Jonny Rotten and Sid Viscous so why would they be any different? What they need is an axe wielding guitar God to hold together their questionable drums and bass, what they get is Hedvig – a prim, blonde locked loner trained exclusively in classical acoustic guitar and, worst of all for our devout punks, a Christian!

This is a heart-warming yet unsentimental story of adolescent filled rebellion, where friendships are made depending on music tastes and parents and siblings nothing other than a source of embarrassment. It’s a tone that Moodysson is completely at home with and, after 10 years focussing on more dramatically challenging films, feels like a cosy blanket of familiarity that sits side by side with earlier, celebrated works Together and Show Me Love.

The performances from the three young leads are impressive enough but the chemistry they share as a gang sets them apart from similarly lauded teens. It’s something that’s coaxed out of them from the trained eye of Moodyson whose subtlety behind the camera invites us to feel a part of this exclusive crew, and for that we should all be thankful.

Matthew Walsh

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