There aren’t that many movies about that awkward tween stage. We have fantasies like The Goonies, and gross sobbing flicks like My Girl, but in the last 15 or so years, we haven’t gotten many other memorable movies that perfectly capture that time when you felt like both the most awkward thing on the planet and invincible. Well, let me introduce you to the most unlikely of films, that resurrects that feeling in such a way that it’s hard to ever look back on any movie prior.
We Are The Best is a Swedish/Danish film directed by Lukas Moodysson (based on the graphic novel by his wife, Coco Moodysson) that tells the story of Bobo and her two friends (Klara and Hedvig) that want to start a punk band in 1982 Stockholm. They have a lot of things that stand in their way: age, sexism, and lack of funds for instruments for a start. They also have to deal with the social pressures of school and their adolescent crushes, along with their ridiculous parents. But with the “power” of their friendship, nothing can make them lose sight of their dream to become one of the few all female punk bands – even if they can barely play their instruments.
There’s a passion and love that is very obvious when looking at We Are The Best. The story is handled with the kind of care and tenderness that isn’t found in most Hollywood pre-teen stories these days. The film lets the kids be, well, kids, and doesn’t force them into actions that are beyond their age. This allows the film to seem almost like a documentary at times, as if we traveled back to the 80’s ourselves and were sitting right next to Bobo and her pals. It’s a quality that is often missing in summer blockbusters, and when is seen can be such a relaxing experience, you never want to return to the world of Transformers and over-sexualized women.
We Are The Best is well, the best (
pun sort of intended) at showing what it’s really like to be a 12-year-old girl, capturing that emotion in a regular, makeup-less bottle. Though some moments turn a bit too cuddly at times, for the most part Mr. Moodysson keeps the focus on realism within these girl’s lives. With brilliant acting by all three leads, each of the girls has a truly believable arc that is both genius in its humor and in its struggle. And if you don’t have the urge to pick up an instrument by the end of this movie, I don’t know what to say then.
Also, it needs to be noted, that though the girls lack any real musical talent (excluding Hedvig), their tunes (or really, one specific tune) are pretty fantastic. Whoever thought you couldn’t turn the hatred of sports and your gym teacher into a punk anthem, Bobo and her crew have just proven that argument invalid. This song, and the rest of the soundtrack (featuring such tunes as “Brezhnev and Reagan, !#$@ Off!” by a band of 12 yr. old boys) is so full of old school punk charm, it’s hard to not find joy somewhere within it (Joey Ramone would be proud, kids.)
Yet, with all that greatness going for it, there is still one shining aspect that cannot be ignored, something to which I would love to personally thank Mr. Moodysson for. This film easily could have gone the route of making the later relationships that the girls have with the band mentioned above, the driving focus of the plot. But instead, it’s only used as a brief bump in the road of their friendship, and is never lingered upon as a goal that needed to be achieved by the leads to feel fulfilled as young females. Hollywood, you really need to take some notes here.
In a summer that seems filled with so many great female characters, We Are The Best gives us the most human examples of the crop shown thus far. It’ll make you want to hit some drums, and tell the world exactly what you hate, which is a right any girl at any age should be allowed to do. Thankfully, We Are The Best proves that point in the most excellent of ways, and made this once punky little girl scream and shout with joy from within her twenty-something frame.
We Are The Best is playing in limited release right now in New York, L.A, and opens in more theaters this Friday in most cities. Check the link here to see it in your town!