It’s Stockholm in the 1980s and punk is not quite dead. 13-year-old punk music lovers Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) decide to form a band when a prank at a local youth centre escalates – the trouble is neither of them can play an instrument. They call upon the string-plucking talents of loner Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), a good Christian girl who is befriended by them and asked to join the band. As their music develops, so too, do their relationships blossoming on the brink of adulthood, complete with the difficult choices of such a tender age that could threaten their tight bond and their band’s future.
Moodysson takes partner Coco Moodysson’s comic novel and really fleshes out the three characters, giving them real emotion, challenges and ‘normal’ complex family backgrounds. We get to know Bobo and Klara in particular, skulking around in overgrown woolly jumpers and each sporting individual statement hairdos, long before the real transformation is awakened by their music. Their enthusiasm and determination to be different in an androgynous fashion is infectious and ultimately fun to watch, then we are helpless to witness the harrowing ride when adulthood is less than kind.
All three young actresses excel in their roles, totally natural in front of the camera that it’s quite unbelievable they make their debut here. Grosin is like a smaller version of Rooney Mara in the making, an exciting firecracker of talent to watch burn brighter, and Barkhammar and LeMoyne have equally rosy futures, thanks to some great casting.
The story weaves in relevant social issues without being glaringly obvious or preachy, so complimenting the anti-system roots of punk. What’s further refreshing is how passionate these kids are about their music from the start, so the initial comical situation we find this budding musical enlightenment in – affluent, (but screw-up, as is always the case with Scandi dramas) suburban Sweden – soon feels very poignant and fitting. It’s the perfect setting for something exciting and fresh to emerge. The punk music in the film is background noise really, a brief lesson in Scandi punk, but it’s the ‘we hate sport’ song the girls pen from a local perspective that sticks for anyone who hated gym at school – or even school itself.
Rightfully so, We Are The Best! title aptly suits Moodysson’s charming and winning journey into adulthood, accompanied by a music style that encourages a venting of mixed emotions, as well as the chance to continuously strive for better, and seek fulfilment through musical change.