You know what punk rock is? It’s about not caring. It’s about being spontaneous. It’s about knowing you’re awesome even though you suck and can’t really play a note. It’s about using exclamation points!!!! “We Are the Best!” is an inspired combination of a punk rock mentality with a joyous and fun kids movie free of cynicism, full of spirit and willing to have fun.
Lukas Moodysson’s Swedish drama follows two 13-year-old girls in ’80s Stockholm still dressing like punk rockers. They listen to trashy loud music and read underground mags, and they roll their eyes at their older brothers who only now listen to Joy Division. There’s the innocent and quieter Bobo (Mira Barkhammar), who wears glasses and short, spiky hair, and then there’s her best friend Klara, a Mohawk wearing spitfire who’s pushy and fast talking but always fun to be around.
At school one day, they hear the local band Iron Fist warming up, and they stink! But look! They forgot to sign up on the form for today’s time slot, so Bobo and Klara steal the practice space from them and proceed to wail on the only drum set and bass the school has. They write a song called “Hate the Sport”, because running laps in gym class is stupid. They can’t play, and they’re just screwing around, but they’re so young and carefree that they’re more punk rock than the actual punks.
Eventually though, they need someone who can play, and they enlist Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne) to join on lead guitar. She’s actually an impressive classical guitarist for her age, getting booed during a talent show and without any friends in school, and the only problem Klara sees is that she believes in God. Not in our punk band!
“We Are the Best!” is not your traditional coming of age story. In fact, the kids don’t grow up a day throughout the course of the film, despite how much they actually observe and go through. They decide one day to beg for change in the subway. “Just look sad,” Klara says. And when their tomfoolery actually works, rather than save the money for an electric guitar, they splurge on candy and ice cream. Klara and Bobo decide they have to cut Hedvig’s hair, and they prove to be such self-destructive troublemakers and instigators.
The saying goes boys will be boys, but then Moodysson has made a girl movie that can cross gender lines with ease. “We Are the Best!” is so effortlessly charming and spirited, even if the whole film is just a lark. But were you looking for a movie about kids playing punk rock to take itself seriously? Heck no! We are the best, we hate the sport and we don’t care for your grown-up movies! Don’t like it? Go listen to Joy Division.