we-are-the-bestWhen settling in to watch a film taking place in 1980s Sweden, chronicling three young, teenage girls as they approach adolescence, you could be forgiven for expecting a picture that could be somewhat alienating to a large part of the potential audience – yet director Lukas Moodyson has created a feature with such broad appeal.

We Are The Best! manages to simply portray the notion of discovery and growing up, and when we sat down the talented filmmaker, he explained that his wife, Coco – who had written the original graphic novel the film is based upon – was always there to offer him advice on the matter. “Well my wife lived through it in real life, a long time ago,” he said. “She was really happy I wanted to make the film. I always asked for her advice and details but she wasn’t present at the set or anything like that. She showed up once and worked as a driver at the art department one day, but I always ask her advice so she plays a big part. Then again it’s important to have my freedom and her freedom. If she was sitting next to me the whole time I wouldn’t be able to direct things.”

Part of the reason it would seem why Moodyson was so capable of exploring the mind of a teenage girl going through puberty, could have something to do with his own childhood, as he admits to embracing female tendencies, ever since he was young. “I was always more interested in girls than I was in boys. It’s not only a question of attraction, but a question of identification,” he explained. “I always felt that the traditional masculinity was always difficult for me, because I didn’t feel that I fit in there. I remember when I was 18 years old you go and do those tests for the military service, and in a really negative way, the officer there said to me, look you’re about as strong as a girl. That’s my life. It’s the same thing now. I don’t know how to drive a car, my wife drives that. So apart from being heterosexual, I feel much more like a girl than a boy. I buy jewellery for my wife, but she’s so masculine she doesn’t wear it, so I get to wear it,” he laughed.

Though a film that can be enjoyed by anybody, as a charming and tender piece of cinema, that thrives in its naturalistic approach – he tells us that he doesn’t bear any particular audience in mind, just hoping to create a film that somebody, somewhere, will resonate with and enjoy. “When I’ve made films, the reactions I have liked most are the ones that come totally unexpectedly. I always have the hope that for someone this is going to mean something. My ideal audience is just one person, like I’ve put a message in a bottle and throw it out to sea, and someone will pick it up.”

The film documents three girls – Bobo (Mira Barkhammar), Klara (Mira Grosin) and Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), who decide to form a three piece punk band, despite not knowing how to play any instruments, and in spite of those telling them the genre is dead and buried. Playing heavily on the correlating themes between punk and the rebellious nature of youngsters, the Swedish director feels the music works as the perfect catalyst in exploring teenage angst.

“Punk is a good way of expressing angst, and anger and it’s always good to express things. You can express things in writing, but this is very physical and direct, so there’s something very refreshing,” he said. Moodyson also reveals that he too wants to form a band despite not truly knowing how to play any instruments – though he tells us that by playing drums as a youngster persuaded him to change that to Bobo’s instrument of choice, as the character he most identifies with.

“I should have a band, except I can’t play anything. I played the drums when I was young, so I changed it to being Bobo’s instrument, because in the book she played guitar,” he continued. “There are a lot of similarities between myself and Bobo. But there were times when I was more like Klara, who was angry, outgoing and extrovert. But in general, yeah, Bobo seems closer to me. We also had a similar past, with fathers who disappeared. I can relate to her.”

The three actresses are a complete joy to behold, all encapsulating the roles with such perfection, and it’s a real accomplishment given they’re without the benefit of hindsight or nostalgia. However finding the right actresses was a long and arduous process for Moodyson. “It was a very long audition process, and one based on improvisation, because I wanted them to be able to be responsive and see what happens, and not at all strict. It was probably a bit too long.”

It was certainly all worth it, as those chosen shine in their respective roles. Moodyson finished by declaring that part of our endearment towards the characters is born out of their inclination to fail. “That’s something I really like, there is a wonderful feeling sometimes about failure. Sometimes when people don’t like what you do, it can be – but not always – really wonderful.” Well Lukas, in this case, it truly is quite a wonderful thing.

We Are The Best! is released on April 18th, and you can read our five star review of the movie here.